“Vision” in report to July 18 parks committee

This article is about the “vision” in the Garden City Lands project team’s report to council that is discussed in the article immediately above this one. The “vision” has now been adopted without discussion. The minutes of the meeting are on the City of Richmond website.

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A “Vision for the future planning of the Lands” for Richmond council’s July 18, 2013 parks committee meeting is stated like this:

The Garden City Lands, located in the City Centre, is envisioned as an exceptional legacy open space for residents and visitors. Visible and accessible from many directions, the Lands are an impressive gateway into Richmond’s downtown, and a place of transition and transformation from the rural to the urban. Its rich, diverse and integrated natural and agricultural landscape provides a dynamic setting for learning and exploration. It is inclusive with a range of spaces, amenities and experiences that encourage healthy lifestyles, social interaction and a strong sense of community pride. (PDF page 10)

 It sounds okay, and I doubt that it matters whether it’s perfect or not. However, I couldn’t help critiquing. For whatever it may be worth, this is what I cam up with.

Three comments and a conclusion: 

First comment:
The vision does not begin with a sentence like this one (my version):

The Garden City Lands, a large block of ALR park in Richmond’s City Centre, are an exceptional legacy for residents and visitors.

My version of the first sentence reflects three missing aspects:

  • One aspect is that the lands were envisioned as parkland when the main lot (5555 No. 4 Road) was purchased and we should be explicitly told if they are no longer a park in the vision.
  • A second missing aspect is that the defining characteristic of the three lots forming the Garden City Lands is that they are an ALR unit, and we should be explicitly told if they are no longer an ALR unit in the new vision.
  • A third missing aspect is that the lands already are an exceptional legacy, and we should be explicitly told if the intent is to devalue or wipe out the existing legacies and start again, as the Create Garden City Lands PR campaign may have implied.

My version of the first sentence of the vision with the extra information did not add any length, so the omissions weren’t for brevity.

Second comment:
The vision statement ends with “a range of . . . amenities.” My sense is that “amenities, ” “community amenities” and “public amenities” in the Garden City Lands context have been the code phrase for uses that include non-ALR uses, and “range of amenities” especially suggests that. If the vision stays that way, “range of amenities” will be taken to include non-ALR uses, continuing the distraction. It would be nice to focus on ALR values instead of having to defend against non-ALR non-uses of the lands.

Third comment:
I like the sentence about the “natural and agricultural landscape” providing a dynamic setting, since it recognizes the importance of the landscape and setting. Thanks to Yvonne Stich, there was a Garden City Conservation table at the successful Ideas Fair on June 1st, and I was continually being asked where the Walmart would be. The reaction when visitors envisioned it was always disapproval, but the loss is less obvious until one is there, so I’m glad to see landscape and setting being brought into the vision.

Conclusion:
Of course, a simple way to express the vision would be something like this:

The Garden City Lands are a Richmond City Centre park that is stewarded in the ALR for agriculture, conservation and open-land recreation for community wellness.

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