Developer propaganda in Dec. 25 Richmond News

A Dec. 25, 2007, article about the Garden City lands on the Richmond News website provides an overview of the developers’ case. This blog has already addressed some of the main points in “Hopeless? Or one last chance?”, written in the early-morning hours before the Richmond Council meeting on Monday, Dec. 17, which was almost clandestine but still drew an overflow crowd after word leaked out.

A good gauge of the level of truth from the developer side is the “half or nothing” claim attributed to city staff in the Richmond News article. Under the Garden City Lands agreements, it would be almost impossible for the city to end up with half the property. Since it seems almost certain that no trade and exhibition centre can be built, the city stands to lose half the “public lands” (essentially city lands) that were allowed for it. In acreage, that would result in a 78:58 division, with the city getting the smaller share, if the development goes ahead.

Furthermore, in the very unlikely event of the centre going ahead, the city’s land available for the “Richmond purposes” stated in a council resolution on Dec. 17 would actually go down even further, from 58 acres to less than 48 acres. On top of that, the fact that the city’s land must be “scattered throughout the entirety of the Lands” would have a negative effect for city uses, even though it would have a positive effect for the sales value of the construction. The details are spelled out in the Agreement of Purchase and Sale, which the city has kept hidden from the public even though it is not a confidential document. (With persistence, I obtained a copy from a council member.)

Another gauge of the credibility of the developer side is the statements of Canada Lands spokesman Randy Fasan questioning whether the land is viable for farming. Of course, one can always say that it’s not economic to lease the Garden City field at its speculator-fueled book value with a high rate of return for Canada Lands, if Canada Lands somehow continues to own it. If Canada Lands gets a low rate of return, that just means less dollars flowing from Richmond to Ottawa. Not a lot of Richmond tears would flow at the prospect.

What matters from a Richmond standpoint is that a source whom Randy Fasan should consider reliable said this:

There’s no contest that the lands are viable farmlands and could be used for berry growing, and in fact, could be improved to raise other crops.

That’s a quote from a May 6, 2006, Richmond Review article. The person quoted was Randy Fasan of Canada Lands.

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