Is the planned Alexandra Park worth keeping?

Update: The newer post titled “Environmentally Sensitive Areas, Alexandra and the Lands” serves as an update to the following article.

At the Richmond council meeting of Monday, March 12, 2012 (7 p.m. at Richmond city hall), council is likely to start eliminating a “natural park” from the West Cambie Area plan.

(Note: It’s item 19. Richmond council provides good opportunities for citizen input, including  a time for delegations at the beginning of meetings. Citizens can normally speak for up to five minutes on agenda items.)

I’m very conscious of that park because it is interrelated with the Garden City Lands. First of all, the recognition of the Lands as parkland makes a natural park across the street seem superfluous.

I may address council to suggest that it broaden what staff are asked to consider when revisiting that part of the plan.

First, I agree that the natural-park aspect is served by the adjacent ALR parkland on the other side of Alderbridge in the City Centre Area. I suggest that the planning process be extended to look at retaining Alexandra neighborhood trees along Alderbridge as habitat, especially for birds, which don’t have any trees to use across the street. If the woods are at least ten metres deep, they will also preserve the legacy of spectacular views of trees and mountains when people look north from the Garden City Lands parkland. And they would buffer the Alexandra neighborhood from the arterial traffic to and from Highway 91.

Second, I suggest that the planning process be further extended to consider whether the rest of the park area should be retained for amenities such as a soccer centre that would also serve neighbourhood and league needs.

I will refer to the Alexandra Neighbourhood Land Use Map on page GP-27. The park appears to start on the west side at 9440, 9480 and 9500 Alexandra, lots that are owned by Walmart, but those lots are unaccounted for in the proposed change. (The park area seems to have shrunk.) Judging with the City of Richmond’s excellent online Geographic Information System, or GIS, the original park area in the neighbourhood plan is close to 5.5 hectares, or almost 13 acres. Even with a related building, plenty of parking, and a retained environmentally sensitive area of woods along Alderbridge Way, there could be 10 acres for the soccer centre. I just hope there wouldn’t be a stadium or any building higher than two stories or the equivalent (20 feet?) that would mess things up for the Alexandra Neighbourhood and for the City Centre views from the Garden City Lands.

I’m just using the soccer centre as an example. If the Alexandra Park area isn’t used for major park amenities like that, it will be hard to find anywhere else for them, especially in or beside the City Centre, which seems to me to typically get less amenities than other areas.

Whether or not those amenities are still needed, they used to be, according to two applications to the Agricultural Land Commission. In 2006, when the commission responded to Canada Lands Company CLC’s application to exclude the Garden City Lands from the ALR, the commission provided its staff report. In the concluding comments, it stated:

Adjacent areas designated for redevelopment could provide opportunities to accommodate such urban amenities. Areas to the north and south of the proposed exclusion are under development for residential and commercial use and these areas could provide for the public amenities sought. For the above reasons, staff believes the land is appropriately designated as agricultural land pursuant to the Agricultural Land Commission Act. (p. 5)

Nothing is more adjacent to the north of the Garden City Lands than the planned Alexandra Park, so the Agricultural Land Commission advice certainly applies to it.



  1. 1
    Monty Says:

    I find this an informative report. It would be nice to get news like this in the local newpapers. If it was, I have missed it. It will be good to see park land, agricultural land and outdoor recreation together. If there is outdoor recreation, I would prefer to see grass than the artificial turf that is gaining popularity.

  2. 2
    Julian Says:

    Thanks for this post. I didn’t even know that it was designated a “natural area”.
    THE most important topic that is often left out when looking at changes to land is its ecological importance, which we in turn ultimately benefit from as well.
    Many of our common bird species are now in serious decline due to continuing habitat loss. All wild spaces no matter what the size are important for breeding, wintering and migration stop-over.
    Wild spaces do not include those bulldozed and planted with grass and otherwise “landscaped”. Land is most useful to nature in its natural state. Even agriculture destroys habitat. It is not habitat itself.
    That forest patch, along with all remaining forest patches need to be preserved for nature; without paths for bikes, dogs and joggers, or one day in the not too distant future we will all say, “Hey, what happened to all the birds?”
    The questions we all need to ask are, “Shouldn’t we leave areas for nature? Don’t we have enough space for ourselves?” Yes, and Yes.
    We still have so much to learn. The research and findings are there if we care enough to look and listen.
    We also have a long way to go before we begin to think about our place in this world without our egos getting in the way….it’s not all about us and what we want…
    If the natural world continues to die, then we are not far behind…

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