Garden City Lands preliminary plan is a milestone

2014 preliminary plan for the Garden City Lands park

Yesterday, May 27, 2014, Richmond Council’s parks committee approved a preliminary plan for enhancing the Garden City Lands, Richmond’s central park.

I had provided some recommendations on behalf of the Garden City Conservation Society, and other ideas came from John ter Borg and De Whalen—and naturally from council members. In the context, the reasonable expectation is that the city team will heed all the advice while proceeding.

As a society, we don’t try to plan designs but do promote a conservation way of thinking that starts with appreciating what has come down from the past, the legacies of the lands. In keeping with our Garden City Lands Coalition roots, we also focus on good stewardship for a harmonious set of agricultural, ecological and open-land park uses for community wellness. The preliminary plan is designed for that.

The city has owned the lands for 50 months, and parks staff have been addressing the project since a council meeting 20 months ago, so there’s been no problem with too much haste. The most obvious obstacle to efficient progress has been the influence of parties doggedly insisting on non-ALR uses. It is hard to be certain, but the main problem of covert inclusion of organized sports uses has finally been put aside as firmly as possible.

Also, staff were able to fend off the attempts by one or two councillors to prompt another large marketing event (in the guise of consulting the public). The marketing effect is largely fine, but it saps the city’s finances and energy. There would still be a marketing event in mid-2015, and that allows time for a lot of practical progress.

This is a milestone for the grassroots movement that took on impossible odds to save the Garden City Lands from development. That started almost ten years ago and became most intense with a lengthy public hearing six years ago. As that event approached, they came together as a coalition, and the Garden City Conservation is descended from it.

After an overwhelming number of the submissions to the Agricultural Land Commission opposed allowing the lands to be taken out of the Agricultural Land Reserve for the high density development. That include a thorough Garden City Lands Coalition submission to the ALC.

Kirby Dynamics - A ToastThe watershed event for saving the lands for community wellness came in February 2009 when the ALC decision ended the high-density development scheme.

Since then, it’s been slow, but progress is progress. Congratulations, citizens!

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