Daycare mix-up at new agricultural park

At a recent Richmond council meeting, I knew things were amiss when Coun. Linda Barnes had to question a 37-child daycare that showed up in plans for a new agricultural park. As council’s social conscience, she would typically be thrilled about new child care.

The park is in the old Fantasy Gardens, on No. 5 Road near the tunnel.

A developer, Townline, has demolished almost all of the old buildings and split the gardens into two parts. On Steveston Highway, there’ll be The Gardens, a “village” of mostly-residential units that will sell for a quarter-billion dollars. To the south, on ALR land, there’ll be The Gardens city park. (The names are confusing, but that’s another matter.)

In December, I’d been impressed with the park plans shown at the open house. I wrote about it on this blog in “Previewing and reviewing new agricultural park.”  However, some current aspects weren’t evident. Now the scaled-down Coevorden castle replica will be moved to the park from the village (good), and an annex—with a bigger footprint than the castle—will be tacked onto its north side (tacky). The castle complex is now prominently labeled “Daycare.”

I can see why Coun. Barnes would question a daycare as best use of the castle, which is seen as a gift from Coevorden (pronounced COO-vor-dn), the ancestral home in the Netherlands of Captain George Vancouver. The developer could hardly demolish it, and it should be an attraction for the village and tourists, perhaps the starting point for Richmond agri-tours. In that role at the park entrance, the castle would enable a win-win for developer and community.

I wondered why the city would hand a developer immense rezoning profit without requiring a child care facility in the village. Then I found that the developer had agreed to build a 37-child daycare in the “medium-density development” (the village) and turn it over to the city. In return, the developer got a density bonus. That was fair.

In contrast, it’s not fair to the community if the park is replacing the village location. The daycare—including the castle complex, parking and drop-off area, and playground—would take up almost all of the two valuable lots at the park entrance.

In any case, the developer gets to use that park area (at far left in the above illustration) for the next few years for condo sales. Since the city gets to keep the buildings, that’s fair.

Before I wrap this up, I want to mention that city parks staff are doing a good job, that Townline is highly reputable, and that we need you standing up for ordinary people for another term, Coun. Barnes. In the agricultural park project, other win-wins with Townline remain very possible.

______________

Notes:

  1. The child care facility requirements are expressed here on PDF pages 63–66. The density bonus is explained here on PDF page 7.
  2. Townline’s arrangement with the city to use 10620 and 10640 No. 5 Road for a sales centre is explained in item 14 (4) in the 2011-01-24 council minutes. One can find the assessed value of those and other Richmond properties with the Geographic Information System (GIS).

Update, Feb. 12, 2011: A version of this post has appeared as a  letter to the editor in the Richmond Review. It is titled Win-wins with the Fantasy Gardens project remain possible.”

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1 Comment »

  1. 1
    Al Says:

    The City of Richmond has been a subsidiary of the Illich clan since the mid 1900’s.

    The incestuous relationship between developers and City hall is well documented if one does the research, (and if one avoids the ideological rants).

    The developer always has the upper hand, they simply dangle the latest zeitgeist ” bait ” that will attract a majority of council votes.

    The latest bait is split between “child care” and ” affordable housing”, while our leading edge of the Baby Boomer Council which lives WEST of #1 road ( don’t believe me???..check it out) in SFH North of $1MILLION navel gazes for a ” feel good” civic bribe to ward off the ever increasing PO’D Richmond public.

    Developers know how to ratchet out the bait…..if their is X bait maximum….Richmond Council probably accepts 60-70% of the bait as a trophy catch. Whooppeee!

    Re the ALR/community garden portion:
    I have yet to see the terms of this…is there a covenant in perpetuity.??…all I know is taxpayers are on the hook for approx $260,000 annually to maintain the so – called free admission garden…..when probably 95 % of Richmond doesn’t want to fight traffic to get there. The same basic park exists east of the hospital.


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