7 pivotal issues for a proactive new council

Northward viewscape from the Garden City Lands in 2005 — Michael Wolfe photo

The viewscape from Richmond City Centre in this 2005 Michael Wolfe photo includes mixed urban forest on the north side of Alderbridge Way. Most of the trees are in an area that has now been “clearcut.”

For the next four years, we could have a proactive new Richmond council that gets results. Strong candidates in the current election would thrive on pivotal issues like these.

1 Faulty consultation

When West Cambie Natural Park was eyed for development, the city gave neighbours a choice: (a) Townhouses or (b) Townhouses + apartments. When a survey responder said to keep the park, staff said “Unacceptable,” and council agreed and abandoned the land to developers. There’s room to improve.

2 Salty irrigation water

Removing the Massey Tunnel in favour of the Port Metro Bridge* would trigger deeper dredging of the Fraser for larger ships. The natural “salt wedge” of seawater would then press further up the channel.

Nowadays, South Arm pumping stations from 6 Road east can often let in water fit for crops. In future, saltier water at intake would hinder that—and Richmond farming.

3 Flood risk

The ocean is rising. As well, dredging a deeper channel will start a chain of effects, and storm waves will hit our shores with growing power.

Or council can take action with senior governments to step up the diking. And perhaps the tunnel and channel depth can be retained, with or without the Port Metro Bridge.

4 Tunnel risk

As a reinforced concrete structure, the tunnel gets stronger with time, but earthquake effects could sweep away what’s under it, causing death and injury. That could be prevented by implementing modern ways to stabilize the area.

The current project knows this but mostly wants to remove, not improve. Still, with a timely sliver of Port Metro Bridge funding, tunnel users could get safety, a bargain no matter how long the tunnel stays.

5 Respecting the ALR

The Garden City Lands need a 3-in-1 ALR roadway near the perimeter. It will serve as a heavy-duty farm road, a clay dike for water control, and a wide all-weather trail for cycling, walking and smooth rolling—wheelchairs, strollers, etc.

Yet a council incumbent lately enthused about a boardwalk instead. That wouldn’t suit the 3-in-1 needs, although boardwalks would suit some other needs on the lands. Besides, our central park can be the best place anywhere to celebrate B.C.’s ALR legacy, and the ALR roadway would be integral.

6 Lost viewscapes

The panoramic natural viewscapes north and east from the Garden City Lands area were a City Centre legacy. After council stripped away protection, an expanse of mixed urban forest north of Alderbridge Way was clearcut.

In partial late atonement, council arranged for a new treed buffer along Alderbridge, now quasi-planned. Vigilant action by caring councillors can limit the loss there and along the whole block from Garden City Road to 4 Road.

7 Feeding the BiRDs

The “big rezoner-developers,” as Michael Wolfe terms them. Six-storey buildings rising north of Alderbridge mar the viewscapes. To please developers, there was rezoning from four storeys, and the increased height makes it hard for trees to ever screen the buildings while not screening the mountains.

Between the rezoning and the clearcutting, Richmond has borne a priceless loss of legacy so that developers could be given millions of bucks in land-value windfalls. In approach, the example is typical, not ideal.

_________

On the current council, Harold Steves and Chak Au have best handled issues like these. I hope other incumbent councillors, all good people, will find happiness off council, since there’s a range of “new blood” with potential to do what’s needed well.

I’ve taken part in meetings of council and its committees for years, and I’m confident in the candidates who’ve been there speaking usefully on issues. In order, that includes Michael Wolfe, Carol Day and, more recently, Jerome Dickey.

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*Note: I coined “Port Metro Bridge” for the announced but officially unnamed South Arm bridge.

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