“Please show me the Alderbridge wildlife corridor”

After reading “Respect the people and our legacies” in the Richmond Review newspaper, a councillor emailed to ask me to illustrate the wildlife corridor that needs to be restored on the north side of Alderbridge from Garden City Road to No. 4 Road.

With the help of the City of Richmond’s GIS Inquiry mapping, I came up with this adapted map:

Alderbridge ESA wildlife corridor in green

The green area is part of the Environmentally Sensitive Area (ESA) that has always been shown on the City’s ESA maps. It is the location of Richmond’s remnant of mixed urban forest that has also always served as both a wildlife corridor and an integral part of the natural viewscapes that stretch—essentially unbroken—from the Garden City Lands area as far as one can see, which on a clear day means deep into the North Shore Mountains, including the Lions.

Precise detail in case anyone wants it:
The 20-metre width is equal to a standard road allowance, so one can think of the wildlife corridor as being the same width as the Alexandra Road right-of-way on the north edge of the long block. You can also think of it as being four-fifths of the shorter dimension of the lot on No. 4 Road at the corner where it meets Alderbridge.

I brought this to council’s attention at the 12 March 2012 council meeting and on subsequent occasions. My presentation to the March meeting includes graphics that I showed to council with the overhead projector. You’ll find the ESA map on page 2 of those presentation notes. It is hard to measure the exact width of the ESA along Alderbridge, but it is reasonable to think of it as at least 20 metres wide all along.

I discussed the matter with key staff member Terry Crowe in a meeting with him and parks planner June Christy on 2 October 2012. By then, staff had slipped the western (Walmart mall) part of the ESA wildlife corridor off the ESA map, but Terry Crowe assured me that it would still apply to the Walmart mall development because it was in place when the mall development application was made. That means that for practical purposes we should think of the long-time ESA there as still being there.

If one is not opposed to the Walmart mall, there are two main options: (1) A mall that lines Alderbridge so that the stores and their signs are like a giant billboard or (b) a mall that is set back 20 metres from Alderbridge to enable the legacy of the wildlife corridor and world-class viewscapes to be restored. The giant billboard appears relatively pleasant for what it is, if we can rely on the SmartCentres video, but it is hard to believe that the people of Richmond would want to give up their legacy (future generations’ birthright) for that.

Note: From a wildlife/viewscape standpoint, what is really needed is buy-in and diligence from City of Richmond staff. The ESA space should be sufficient, but whether it actually accomplishes the purpose depends on proactive commitment from staff and, with their help, the landowners.

Note: On this blog, the articles that mentions the wildlife corridor are organized here. There’s a lot of overlap with the viewscape articles, which you’ll find here.

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