Environmentally Sensitive Area, Alexandra and GCL

Looking north from the main (west) entrance to the Garden City Lands, we see a seasonal pond, a grassy raised area (about 100 metres by 400), one or two vehicles that are moving along Alderbridge Way, the treed environmentally sensitive area (ESA, already compromised on the west side by Walmart site preparation), and the Coast Mountains. The treed ESA and the scene of woods and mountains are mentioned in the third and fifth points in this article.

As an Alexandra park article follow-up, here are the five points I made to Richmond council:

First, I agree that the natural-park role could possibly be served instead by the Garden City Lands, the 140 acres of open-land park across Alderbridge Way in the City Centre Area. But that only works if people can easily walk across to the Garden City Lands and get around the Lands on all-weather trails for open-land park enjoyment. This means, for example, that the hydrology studies need to be completed soon. And that’s because all-weather trails would have a dyking effect, which will be harmful instead of helpful unless they’re part of excellent hydrology, or water management.

Second, I suggest that the planners look at retaining the ESA natural area shown in the city’s Environmentally Sensitive Area map all along the northern side of Alderbridge from No. 4 Road to Garden City Road. That includes the Alexandra natural park, along with the overlapping Walmart area, where Walmart should be doing restoration, preferably with native species like shore pines.  (By the way, there’s a variety of trees in the ESA that borders Alderbridge.) I infer from the city’s ESA guidelines that the buffer should be 15 metres deep, and it’s the responsibility of the property owners.

Third, I urge that planners investigate whether any Alexandra natural park land should be retained for urban amenities like playing fields for the City Centre and West Cambie. If the Alexandra park is not kept for such amenities, it will be hard to find land for them, and the Agricultural Land Commission has been clear that it should not be in the ALR. In 2006, when it refused to exclude the Garden City Lands from the ALR, the commission included its staff report. Just before the final recommendation (rejection), it said this:

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. (p. 5)

Fourth, I suggest that the assessed value of about $25 million for all* of the Alexandra park lots be used for active conservation of the 140-acre open-land park across the street if the Garden City Lands replace the Alexandra park as natural area.

*A footnote here: “All of the lots” includes three Walmart lots that are largely in the park area plan but missing from the new proposal.

Moving on:
Fifth
, I hope the planning will take a City Centre view too. From the Garden City Lands and further east, south, and west, the treed ESA buffer along the Alderbridge side of the natural park and Walmart land is part of the view. With the green lands and the woods and the mountains, the scene is usually tranquil and often spectacular. Please don’t compromise it. It’s part of our legacy from the past and for the future.

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