Garden City Utopia

By now, most informed people want the Garden City Lands to remain as green space with ecological and/or food-producing uses with community benefit. If everyone acts with a high level of competence and goodwill, how will the upcoming renegotiations under the basic Garden City Lands agreement (“the MOU”) play out toward that goal?

1.    Richmond’s city council, after acquiring the best available legal and negotiating help, will become thoroughly informed and act strategically together to finally make use of Richmond’s potentially powerful negotiating position.

2.    Canada Lands Company CLC will soon be prepared to act with corporate social responsibility (CSR) in keeping with the community-value and financial-value aspects of its mandate.

3.    The federal government will be prepared:
(a) to renegotiate with the other three MOU parties if the occasion arises,
(b) to take back the Lands for federal program needs if the renegotiations do not succeed, and
(c) to ensure specific federal program needs that fit with community needs (probably in agriculture, although citizens have also suggested ALR-compatible concepts of a national historic site/park and a homelessness solution under the
Surplus Federal Real Property for Homelessness Initiative).

4.    CLC will act responsibly, respecting the intents of the MOU, which include the City being able to purchase at least half the Lands at fair market value and having at least the right of first offer on all of the Lands.

5.   The Musqueam Indian Band will consider meeting its goals—money and reconciliation (the renewal of a friendship)—by acting in the spirit of the MOU to sell the Lands to the City or the pre-MOU owner, the federal government.

6.     Citizens, especially the Garden City Lands Coalition, will continually inform and influence the public discussion in ways that will help the parties to achieve the goal.

7.    Eventually, ownership of the Lands will be transferred to an appropriate entity—probably the City of Richmond but, if that cannot be arranged, alternatively a federal ministry with an appropriate program need.

Everything will unfold like that only in an ideal world. In reality, CLC and the Band have seemed very pragmatic but not idealistic, and the City has been neither. Nevertheless, we can continue to make progress in the right direction, and that may somehow be enough.

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