Thinking thrice about price

An online poll on the Richmond Review home page asks a good question: “The city is buying the Garden City lands for $59.2 million. Is that a good price?”

The Review has changed an earlier question to put the emphasis clearly on the price, rather than on the wisdom of buying the lands. I had to think thrice to decide on an answer.

  1. I could say No. I’m concerned that it may encourage speculation on ALR land and increase the price of farmland in Richmond. That makes it difficult for new farmers to obtain land and makes local food less affordable. I also think the City should have been able to obtain a better price, although it must have been challenging to come to a purchase agreement at all while coping with the dissidents on council.
  2. I could say Yes. The City will unquestionably need to obtain more greenspace or parkland, which can include ALR parkland. Anywhere in the city that will cost $2.5 million an acre or more, and in the City Centre it would cost a lot more.  Considering that the lands are in the City Centre, the $3 million an acre that Harold Steves stated at the March 8 meeting makes sense, and acquiring over 136 acres (the acreage of the Garden City Lands) for greenspace/parkland would cost over $409 million. As a citizen, I’m happy to be saving future generations the difference between that and $59 million, which is a $350 million saving in today’s dollars and a lot more in future dollars.
  3. So my answer is Yes and No. But the poll wouldn’t allow that. I expressed a couple of reservations to Richmond council before they voted to use Community Legacy Land Replacement funds to complete the purchase, and those reservations remain. However, I have to recognize that a legacy with $350 million saved is more important than the small fraction of that amount—$46 million at most—that we might possibly have been able to save.  As an informed and responsible citizen, I had to vote Yes.

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