The Shrinking 68-58-48 Acres

Barbara Huisman’s excellent letter to the editor  in the Jan. 10 Richmond Review corrects some false impressions and at the same time shows how other falsehoods have been repeated so often that even an astute and knowledgeable reader like Ms. Huisman can assume them to be true. An example is the falsehood that the Garden City lands agreements would result in the City getting 68 acres for the “Richmond uses” in the resolution that council unnanimously approved on Dec. 17, 2008.

The “68 acres” figure is false because of the “TEC Lands” factor, which I brought to council’s attention at the Dec. 17 meeting. The TEC, the proposed Trade and Exhibition Centre, is not one of the three “Richmond uses,” so it will not be built on the Garden City lands under any circumstances. At least it presumably won’t unless the city is hoping to lie to the residents and the Agricultural Land Commission and then change the Richmond use after the property is removed from the ALR. Or possibly unless council votes to make the TEC a preferred use before making its presentation to the commission.

If the TEC will not be built, that triggers provisions in the agreements that cause half the approximately 20.4 acres allowed for the TEC to instead go to the developers, the Limited Partnership of Canada Lands Company CLC and the Musqueam, who will use it for what the purchase agreement calls “commercial or residential development.” That would result in CLC and the Musqueam getting over 78 acres, with the city getting less than 58 acres.

Furthermore, if there’s a change of heart about the TEC, there would be even less land available for the three “Richmond uses.” Those uses, by the way, seem essentially derived from the Richmond Sustainable Food Systems Park proposal:

  • Community wellness and enabling healthy lifestyles
  • Urban agriculture
  • Showcasing environmental sustainability

With a 20.4 acre TEC, the land remaining for those purposes would be less than 48 acres. There are factors that would significantly reduce even that figure for practical purposes, but the point is that the highest figure the city can honestly dream about for the Richmond purposes is not 68 acres. Instead, it would be either 58 or 48 acres.

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