“Lands are city’s last chance”

People keep asking for a blog post about a recent column in the Richmond News called “Lands are city’s last chance.” From the sound of it, the usual public relations spinners had a big role in it, this time with Coun. Bill McNulty.

According to the column, “Richmond desperately needs more space for parks.” Due to poor planning, that may be true. However, putting high-density construction on the Garden City lands won’t give hope to the desperate. The City would get no more than 58 acres. After one subtracts roadways and the needed reservoir, there would only be just enough park space for the mega-density development to meet the City’s too-low requirements. At best, there might be enough playing fields and park for the new population. That wouldn’t solve the existing problem.

In contrast, the Garden City lands are 136 acres of open green space, with wonderful views of mountains to the north and green space and woods to the east. They will still be green if Canada Lands Company, which is project managing the City’s upcoming ALR-exclusion application, gets rejected by the Agricultural Land Commission again. As part of the ALR, they will remain that way.

Just as Richmond communications manager Ted Townsend did recently, the column writer implicitly said that the City would not get the eastern half of the Lands, even though that is essentially what is shown in the City’s Garden City Lands map. Many citizens and MP John Cummins have already pointed out the misinformation, since the truth is obvious from the agreements, and now the City is finally backing down from the pretence.

The way the column writer puts it is that the “park and public space will be carefully integrated with the development that will take place on the remaining portion of the lands to maximize public access and community use of all 136 acres.” Oh? So the public will have access to recreate in the residential and commercial towers? Perhaps the “families picnicking” that the writer envisions will just hike or ride up to a stranger’s penthouse with their picnic baskets and lawn chairs and make themselves comfortable on the patio, enjoying the view from the only place where one can still see the mountains? Not too likely. For all of us who understand Spin, what it really means is that any land the City might get would provide strips of green space for the development.

The sad part about the column is that it could be a self-fulfilling prophecy. Mr. Cummins has pointed out that it is very possible for the Garden City lands to remain available, within the ALR, for uses that are of benefit to the Richmond community. However, the good possibility of achieving that will be greatly hindered if the City is not ready to work with Mr. Cummins as soon as the opportunity arises, perhaps right after the ALR-exclusion decision. That will be the last, best chance for the City to finally get it right.


1 Comment »

  1. 1
    Olga Says:

    It is very outrageous that Coun. Bill McNulty keeps misrepresenting allowed uses for the ALR properties. He says:
    “That’s why the sporting community, myself, and the city have been doggedly pursuing the Garden City lands for decades. It is my personal goal to ensure the city finally succeeds in that objective, as it is probably our last chance to be able to acquire land for a major new park within the city centre.”
    Did they ever apply to the ALR commission to get a permit to do a park there? If they did they would know that
    allow in its PART 2 — PERMITTED USES under the 3 Permitted uses for land in an agricultural land reserve:

    (ii) park established under the Park Act or by the Protected Areas of British Columbia Act
    So please, Coun. Bill McNulty – do your homework before stating that ALR status limits use of this lands as a Park, it does limit the housing development and thanks god there is something to limit that in our wild uncontrolled growth!
    If anyone wants to write a letter to the local newspaper using my text I grant my full permission to do so!

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