Renegotiation within the “MOU”

Renegotiation within the basic Garden City Lands agreement has begun. As far as we can learn, it was held up by some of the usual sabre-rattling from the lawyer for the Musqueam Indian Band. In any case, reliable sources say the process began in earnest in a meeting at Richmond City Hall on Thursday, June 18.

The intent appears to be to complete the renegotiation within a few weeks. Inevitably there are ways in which the Garden City Lands Coalition and other supporters of saving the lands as green space can provide useful input. No doubt this will be a topic at the annual general meeting of the coalition as an incorporated society, which is discussed in the post below this one.

Background

Some renegotiation of arrangements between three of the parties to the basic Garden City Lands agreement (the “MOU”) is needed because Agricultural Land Commission decisions have made it impossible for City staff to recommend rezoning for mega-density development on the “Development Lands” half of the property (an understanding expressed in MOU section 1.19). That means that a joint venture between Canada Lands Company CLC Limited and the Musqueam Indian Band must limit its development of the Development Lands to alternative uses permitted by the commission, with City staff facilitating zoning as need be.

Under the circumstances, Canada Lands is evidently interested in selling the Development Lands to the City and splitting the profits with the Musqueam. At minimum, the City is in a very strong position to obtain the other half, called the “Public Lands” at its fair market value, stated in the agreement as $4.77 million. That is consistent with the spirit of the agreement, and the City has clout in the form of the No Development Covenant. That assumes, however, that it starts making use of its naturally good position, which it has historically not done.

With the current make-up of Richmond council, City ownership of the Garden City Lands could be another step toward a green future for the lands. However, the same end result could be achieved without City ownership.

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