Deal to purchase Garden City Lands

A City of Richmond offer to buy the Garden City Lands has been accepted. For the deal to go through, a majority of Richmond Council must still vote favourably. The key vote is at a special council meeting on Monday.

  • When: 4 p.m., Monday, March 8, 2010.
  • Where: Anderson Room, 2nd floor of Richmond City Hall, 6911 No. 3 Road, Richmond, B.C.
  • Speakers: The agenda allows for “delegations” (speakers from the public) early in the meeting. Speakers are normally limited to five minutes and must address an agenda topic.
  • Spectators: Citizens welcomed.

The topic in the agenda is this staff recommendation: “That the Council-approved 2010 Capital Budget be amended to increase the land acquisitions by $28.17 million to $59.17 million to accommodate the purchase of Garden City Lands, funded from the Community Legacy and Land Replacement Reserve.” (See the staff report for details.)

In principle, the directors of the Garden City Lands Coalition Society unanimously in favour of funding the purchase of the Garden City Lands for the purpose of using that green space for ALR-permissible uses for community wellness. (Note: The support can be only “in principle” because we citizens have to rely on the Richmond council members to eliminate any “devil in the details” in an agreement that is hidden from us.)

For $59.17 million, the City of Richmond would get 136.35 acres of green space that will, in time, be essential for maintaining the City’s livability standards. The cost works out to $437,000 an acre, which is far less than the $2.5 million an acre that the City has been spending to acquire green space in recent years.

A key factor is that the Community Legacy and Land Reserve Fund would be used for this purpose. That fund is what remains of the proceeds of sale of the last bits of the Brighouse Estates for high-rises near the Richmond Oval. A visionary purpose of the 1962 Richmond council that acquired the Brighouse Estates was to provide green space. Using the fund to acquire green space for “Richmond’s Stanley Park” could not be more fitting.

The community has shown support for a “Richmond’s Stanley Park” with a theme that is suited to the Richmond property’s ALR status. The Garden City Lands Coalition will continue to fight to keep the land in the ALR if that status is ever threatened. For years the Garden City Lands have been protected by local vigilance plus terrific support from a virtual community that goes far beyond Richmond, and those factors will continue to be crucial for ongoing success if and when Richmond acquires the property.

One aspect of the purchase is that the City’s purchase price of over $59 million is more than the ALR value of the property, which is assessed at $13 million. That is not a good reason to oppose the purchase, but it will be essential for a coalition director to go through the implications when addressing council on March 8.

If possible, please come to the special meeting of Richmond Council at 4 p.m. in the Anderson Room of City Hall on Monday, March 8, 2010. Your presence shows public interest in the issue, as well as support for speakers. If you can, also make a short presentation with persuasive points, preferably in favour of the City purchasing the Garden City Lands for ALR-permissible uses for community wellness.

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