Mandarin-Only Strata Council In Richmond, B.C. Sparks Human Rights Complaint

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The Wellington Court complex in Richmond, B.C. | Google Streetview

RICHMOND, B.C. — An condominium owner in Richmond, B.C., has filed a human rights complaint against his strata council's decision to run meetings entirely in Mandarin.

Andreas Kargut said the strata's refusal to conduct the meetings in English discriminates against some residents, despite meeting minutes and other documents later being translated.

"I felt really discriminated against,'' said Kargut, who served on the Wellington Court strata council from 2003 to 2014.

(Photo: Graeme Wood/Richmond News)

He said the complaint, submitted to the province's human-rights tribunal, was a last resort after his protests fell on deaf ears.

The strata council ignored a recommendation from the building's property management company to hire an independent translator for all meetings and instead enlisted the services of someone who was unable to handle the task, he added.

"I think (translators) run at about $100 an hour,'' Kargut said.

"It would've been a small price to pay. A lot of the really good ones, they actually know how to moderate a meeting to make sure everybody has their turn to speak.''

No laws require English be used at strata meetings and Mandarin is spoken by as many as 70 per cent of those living in the complex, which is near Vancouver International Airport.

Ed Mao, head of the Wellington Court strata, said council never said it would exclude English, but members find it more efficient to use Mandarin during meetings.

"It is only the council meetings, when we discuss stuff on the matters, that we find it more efficient to use Mandarin,'' said Mao. "That's all.''

The city has been the focus of complaints in the past, with some Richmond residents protesting against Chinese-only signage used by a small percentage of businesses.

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