2011 federal election & the DND Lands, Post 1

How can we get the DND Lands? I hear that sort of question more and more. The people who are asking may not know that name for the federal lands where the Department of National Defence has an armoury on the northwest corner, but they do know the property. It’s sitting there in East Richmond between the Garden City Lands and Richmond Nature Park. People want to make sure it will be conserved as open land in one way or another.

In the 2011 Canadian federal election campaign, the issue has come up and should come up more. Michael Wolfe, the Green candidate in the Richmond riding, has indicated his intent to work toward obtaining the DND Lands for the community. It would be great if all candidates for Member of Parliament in the Richmond riding and Delta-Richmond East riding would share that intent.

Personally, I think it’s a very good question for all-candidates events. There’s a Delta-Richmond East all-candidates meeting on Tuesday, April 19, 2011, and I plan to ask about it there. (It’s at the Coast Tswawwassen Inn at 6 p.m.) My question will be something like this:

If you are the MP when the federal government no longer needs the Deparment of Defence Lands in Richmond East for defence purposes, what will you do to ensure that the property will become available for community wellness?

Some candidates may say the question is hypothetical, but my sense is that the chance of the situation coming up in the next four years is greater than each candidate’s one-sixth chance of being elected, and prompt informed action by the Richmond MPs will be essential. To be prepared, candidates or MPs simply require the ability and diligence to learn from what happened with the Garden City Lands about eight years ago.

In particular, they need to learn from the federal action before and during court action at that time, which led to the problematic Garden City decision of early 2004. Along with that, they need to learn from the federal action that led to the problem-clearing Sinclair Centre results four years later. If our MPs express the needed action clearly and persuasively enough to the right people at the right time, the DND Lands will become available for the suitable community wellness.

I’ll continue in Post 2 on this topic (above) to clarify things for the readership. However, I imagine that capable MP candidates will be able to figure things out on their own, particularly with the help of the above two links.

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Note re constituencies: The dividing line between that riding and the Delta-Richmond East one happens to run down No. 4 Road between the Garden City Lands and the DND Lands. While the DND lands are technically in Richmond East, the issue is relevant for both ridings. It is of concern to all Richmond citizens, regardless of how Elections Canada happened to draw the line between the two unpopulated properties.

Note re the Musqueam Indian Band interest: No doubt the  Band will be a factor with the DND Lands, as happened with the Garden City Lands. That would involve sufficient opportunity for the Band to be consulted and accommodated and for the DND Lands to be part of Treaty Process negotiations. Those opportunities were not sufficiently provided eight years ago, and any federal approach to the DND Lands must not repeat the mistake. Within that context, it should still be possible for the federal government to make the DND Lands available for community wellness within the ALR when the time comes.

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