Danger signal from Canada Lands Company

Mark Laroche, president of Canada Lands Company, has written to Richmond citizen Carol Southgate. Mr. Laroche essentially agrees with Carol’s statements to him about the company’s mandate, which emphasizes community benefit. However, his letter goes on to suggest that the Garden City Lands’ protection by the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) prevents the company from having a “free hand” to implement “sustainable real estate solutions.”

One evident aspect of the Laroche letter is a state of denial about the nature of the Garden City Lands property. For a start, the property is prime farmland within BC’s Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR). The land has always been in the ALR, and the Agricultural Land Commission has twice confirmed that it should remain in the ALR.

Furthermore, the Laroche letter espouses Smart Growth, both by name and with the “sustainable real estate solutions” description. However, Smart Growth BC has firmly explained that removing the property from the ALR would not be Smart Growth.

Canada Lands professes principles that should put it on the “Save Garden City” side of the Garden City Lands issue. However, in practice it is still taking a “Pave Garden City” approach. I hope that citizens can somehow find a way to get the company to genuinely apply its principles to the reality that actually exists.

There is a scary side to the letter because it reveals that Canada Lands Company is still aiming to get the Garden City Lands out of the ALR. The Pave-Garden-City consortium is flying below the radar, but it still has a great deal of power, deep pockets, and the incentive of immense lucre. If the community has become complacent, that may be a fatal mistake.

 
Background

Mark Laroche, president of Canada Lands Company, was responding to a response to Carol Southgate’s request to him, which consisted of a letter directly to him and a letter to the editor published in local newspapers and on this blog. With Carol’s permission, here is the Laroche letter, which had a cc to the Garden City Lands Coalition.  The Laroche letter is dated April 9, 2009, and arrived on April 21.

The Smart Growth BC opinion was expressed in a letter from the executive director that she sent to Richmond council after she learned that the proposed Garden City Lands development was being falsely identified as Smart Growth.

 
May 5 update

What can be done? First of all, I’m not yet ready to give up on Canada Lands Company  having a better side that it has shown so far.

Carol Southgate had a good idea in the way she approached the company. There have been other pieces about the company in the newspapers and on this blog, and I’ve received a suggestion that they consider using Carol’s way of sharing them with the company.

If that works, there will be a win-win result for Canada Lands Company and the community. If it does not work, then most likely the time will have come for another of our Garden City Lands campaigns.

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