Sharing legacy viewscape insight with council

Note: The public hearing at City Hall on Monday, Oct. 15, at 7 p.m. will address this matter in the context of the bylaw amendment to redesignate the West Cambie Natural Park for townhouse development. The public hearing agenda, including the proposed bylaw amendment, should be available from this page soon.

Blog readers know all about legacy views from the Garden City Lands. Today, it was Richmond council’s turn. Here’s what I shared:

Mayor Brodie and Councillors,

I believe that the West Cambie Natural Park does not deserve to die. However, I already spoke to you about that on March 12, 2012, with particular reference to some 2006 advice from the Agricultural Land Commission. So I’ll move on.

I just want to point out that there are huge side effects on the legacy views from the Garden City Lands if development replaces the woods along Alderbridge Way from No. 4 Road west. The side effects can be disastrous, but on the other hand they can be perpetually beneficial.

None of you would set out to destroy that natural legacy. I’m bringing it to your attention because I don’t see where it has been addressed to this point.

Looking north from the Garden City Lands 8 years ago or 80 years ago or 800 years ago, there was a panoramic view that stretched almost unbroken from your feet—as you stood there inland in the city centre—across the low-lying green foliage of the lands to the biodiverse green woods to the North Shore mountains and the sky.

For all practical purposes that legacy view was unique in the world. Along with the only sphagnum peat bog in a city centre, it was one of our greatest legacies from the past for the future. It is wonderful for the City Centre and all of us. When the Garden City Lands become the hub for eco-tourism and agri-tourism, it will be wonderful for tourists too

In recent years, the unbroken natural scene from the City Centre as far as the eye can see has been somewhat degraded, apparently by Walmart, at the woods on the north side of Alderbridge. However, the woods can be restored and enhanced even if the natural park is lost and Walmart goes ahead. Just yesterday, a group of us citizens toured the Garden City Lands and the Walmart area and West Cambie Natural Park areas with an eye to how this can be done, and it seems I feasible than expected.

Wherever this fits into the council planning process, I urge you to find a place for it.

_______________

Some council members “got it,” and I was particularly pleased that City Centre activist Peter Mitchell added his support. New council member Coun. Chak Au is especially open and not so reliant on staff, and that helps a lot in this situation. Coun. Harold Steves suggested that people could look over the top of Walmart to see the mountains or at least be given room for a view between the building, but that’s not a comforting thought from my perspective.

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