Reflection 3: Respect vs exploitation

This is the third in a series of posts with a springboard: a key meeting about fixing the illegal designation of the Garden City Lands and neighbouring DND Lands in the Regional Growth Strategy, the Metro Vancouver bylaw that will be basic to the region’s government until 2040. This reflection starts with a recent photo of the Garden City Lands, a visual comment from a Friend of Garden City who attended that meeting.

The photo expresses a simple scene with a feeling there’s more to it. The grassy view is from a northwest area of clay fill. As one moves southeast, the bog ecology emerges. Everything was mowed last fall, and the green is just coming back. In a few months, the vegetation here will be tall and thick, slow to wend through. Soon there’ll be a new generation of wildlife, even coyote pups whose parents have migrated west for the season from the bog forest of the DND Lands, the far horizon in this scene.

When one walks on the Garden City Lands and listens to them, especially with a guide like conservation biologist Michael Wolfe, one finds a new world in a city centre. We wrote about this last September in “Eco-tour hope, foreboding, joy” and “Toward restoring the Garden City Lands.”

The current Garden City Lands Coalition brochure is all about respect that flows from gratefulness for what we have in the lands. In its online form, “Gratefulness,” the brochure concisely describes 15 kinds of respect related to the lands. That way of thinking enhances our desire to share our natural jewel well forever, which is a far cry from the desire to exploit it that recedes but never goes away.

Listening respectfully includes listening to the Agricultural Land Commission. When the Garden City Lands and other ALR properties in Richmond and the Township of Langley were illegally designated as General Urban or Industrial in the new Metro Vancouver bylaw, the commission was respectful, not heavy-handed, with Metro and the two municipalities. A recent post introduces the commission’s letters and the legal analysis by lawyer Andrew Gage of West Coast Environmental Law. Unfortunately, the commission’s diplomacy was treated as weakness. The City of Richmond has moved in the right direction lately but is still not acting with due respect.

Our respect includes recognizing how the Garden City Lands can be central to local food security. The Sustainable Food Systems Park proposal is altruistic in much of its intent but could end up rescuing us all from food shortage. The same could be said of the Urban Agriculture Education vision from Dr. Kent Mullinix and Kwantlen Polytechnic University.

Our respect for the lands can easily be from cultural and philosophical perspectives, as exemplified by Howard Jampolsky’s “Earth Awareness.” His Jewish perspective provides an inspiring model, not an obstacle, for appreciating the Garden City Lands as both a natural park and a symbol.

I think there’s a business case to be written that would show why the Garden City Lands deserve respect from a business perspective, incuding (but not limited to) agritourism and ecotourism. But that’s for another post.

Actually there’s a lot more to be said and seen and especially listened to. Let’s help our politicians and community and each other to listen better to what the Garden City Lands are telling us about themselves.


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