Carol Day on funding the Garden City Lands purchase

At the Richmond Council meeting about funding the purchase of the Garden City Lands, Richmond School Trustee Carol Day, a founding member of the Garden City Lands Coalition, made the following presentation. (Note: Carol also discussed the issue on CBC radio on March 10.)

The Community Legacy Land Replacement fund was created to replenish the city’s land inventory. It is fitting that the approximately 141 million dollars received from the sale of the Brighouse Estates/ Oval lands can  now create a lasting legacy for generations to come by using a fraction of those funds to purchase the 136 acres  known commonly as the Garden City Lands.

City Council back in the early 60’s had the foresight to purchase Brighouse Estates to ensure that Richmond would have green space that would act as lungs for our fair city. Now this council has an opportunity to purchase an amazing 136 acre jewel in the heart of our metropolitan city for the fair price of $ 59.17 million dollars.  The history books will show that this council had the foresight to make smart decisions for the future needs of the people of Richmond .

Years from now, this purchase price will seem a bargain as property values continue to soar with Metro Vancouver now considered the most livable city in the world. When you compare prices in Metro Vancouver with other major cities like Hong Kong, New York and London, our prices are low and can only go up in the future.

During the public hearings, 93% of people polled wanted to keep the Garden City lands green. Later, 96% of the 150 people and groups who responded to the Agricultural Land Commission about the Garden City Lands exclusion application wanted the same thing. City council can vote to have another public hearing, but l  think l can speak for an overwhelming majority of Richmond citizens when l say, “Yes, this is money well spent.”

Richmond needs a Stanley Park of our own, and the Garden City Lands are our last opportunity to achieve this goal.  I know this is a lot of money, but this council has made tough choices in the past and if you just do that math this is the right thing to do. You sold a mere  18.5 acres for 141 million and can purchase a whopping 136 acres for only 59 million. That is a good deal for Richmond. We have an agreement with the Musqueam and the Canada Lands Company, and now is the time to seize the opportunity.

Imagine Vancouver without Stanley Park. Can you visualize skyscrapers all along the shoreline, multi-level parking garages, and endless shopping malls? What a shame it would have been if the green space we all take for granted now was simply not saved all those years ago.

This council has proven it is capable of creating legacies, and this legacy will be the one you will be most proud of when you look back years from now. Be like the council of 1962 that thought ahead and made a choice to save green space for their children’s children.

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