Federal park?

Excellent letter in the Nov. 23 Richmond Review by Yvonne Hockley! It makes a case that “The Garden City lands should become a federal park.”

I’ll happily leave it to Richmond Member of Parliament Alice Wong, along with Delta-Richmond East MP John Cummins, to figure out how to make it happen, but surely there is a way for the federal government to set the lands aside for possible use as a small national park and/or a national historic site. For either use, the property would fall under the Minister of the Environment, and that is also fitting for ecological reasons, including the value of the bog as a carbon sink.

As it happens, wetlands bog is not well represented in the national park system. By filling that gap, the Garden City Lands could be a small but valuable addition to the national park system. Initially, the lands might become an area/site of interest (entering the established selection processes for national parks and historic sites), with Environment Canada starting by making the property non-surplus.

The area under consideration could extend further east to include the National Defense Department (DND) property, the most undisturbed part of the Lulu Island Blueberry bog. The armoury in the northwest corner of the DND property could serve as the future administration building and/or heritage centre.

With federal-municipal cooperation, the park/site could even include the Richmond Nature Park, restoring the original Garden City Lands, which stretched two miles east-west and half a mile north-south.  As a national park, it would be easily the smallest in the system, but size is not supposed to be a determining factor for national parks, and the size would certainly be fine for a national historic site.

 

As Yvonne Hockley has recognized, urban agriculture education would be consistent with the park status, as would community gardens. Also, an area could be restored to the native blueberries and cranberries that provided sustenance to First Nations people and settlers.

The park concept ties in with the frequently suggested view that the Garden City Lands could easily become “Richmond’s Stanley Park.” Although Vancouver’s Stanley Park is a city park, it is a national historic site, and it is on federal land leased for a nominal amount, a dollar a year.

Besides serving the Richmond community, the national park and/or historic site, with its location across the intersection (of Alderbridge Way and Garden City Road) from the Golden Village, would anchor the historic-site tourism and agri-tourism facets of Richmond’s tourism industry.

Some national historic sites are “representative examples,” and the Garden City lands are representative in a number of historically significant ways related to sustainable food, ecology, national defence, and community values.

Some other proposals for federal government use of the Garden City Lands are simply for the purposes of Agriculture and Agri-Foods Canada. Yvonne Hockley’s proposal could be either complementary or alternative to them.

 

The thought-provoking letter concludes with this observation: “By preserving the integrity of the Garden City Lands, we will preserve the integrity of our community.” At several levels, that is “right on.”

 

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