Feb. 18 General Purposes Meeting

Richmond Council’s Feb. 18 General Purposes Committee meeting was important because it considered whether to go to public hearings with the application to the Agricultural Land Commission to remove the Garden City Lands from the ALR. There was plenty of meaningful dialogue, a pleasant improvement from the bizarre special meeting two months earlier that began the application process.

Unfortunately, there appeared to be no media reporters there. The Richmond News, which would have had its Tuesday-edition earlier in the day, had to rely on the City’s press release in an article that consequently had a pro-development slant except for an insight from Coun. Sue Halsey-Brandt.

The five public delegations provided unique insights. Along with the follow-up questions, they brought into the open several realities that some council members have appeared blind to.

Two presenters addressed the recent open houses and feedback form mechanism that frustrated the public consultation that they were supposed to facilitate. (Their presentations are available in PDF here and here.) The greatest concern was that the key question in the feedback form falsely claimed that the would-be development is “Smart Growth,” when in fact it does not follow the principles of Smart Growth BC. That would have hugely misleading effects on the results from the feedback form, which is being used for a quasi-survey.

Two presenters talked informatively about the agricultural uses of the Garden City Lands. A City-hired “expert” had said that the lands are only good for pasture, but that didn’t need much of a rebuttal. The absurdity is obvious when one considers that the City itself is proposing to use part of the Lands for urban agriculture, not pasture. If the land should be taken out of the ALR because it is not suitable for agriculture, why does the City propose to use it for agriculture after it is removed? The presenters went much further than that, and many of the council members took considerable interest.

When presenters and staff responded to council questions, some council members seemed to finally realize that the Garden City Lands agreements essentially give Canada Lands and the Musqueam a veto over the City’s usual zoning powers. When it came time to vote, no one voted with the three council members who were already well informed about the agreements, but two or three additional council members at least appeared to be listening and understanding better what a bad situation the City has got itself into.

In response to a question, the head of the City’s legal department explained the series of steps that will occur if the Garden City lands do not get removed from the ALR. It was encouraging to hear her informed explanations.


1 Comment »

  1. 1
    Olga Says:

    Councillors Evelina Halsey-Brandt and Cynthia Chen seemed to be having a second thoughts and they said that they will wait until the Public hearing to hear what people say and then will make up their minds – whether they will support the application to remove the land from ALR.

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