Response to Port Metro land use plan

Update after March 16 council committee meeting: Amarjeet Rattan, Richmond’s Director of Intergovernmental Affairs, presented a proposal to seek broad support for a follow-up resolution to curb port land use that conflicts with local and provincial zoning and land use plans. The committee agreed. No doubt it will go to the next council meeting, March 23, to be ratified.

Richmond will seek further action with the unions of municipalities for the Lower Mainland, B.C. and Canada.  Excellent progress, Amarjeet Rattan!

Roy-Sakata-speaking 2Update after the Richmond council meeting:
All went well, with citizen Roy Sakata (shown at right) bringing in the estuary conservation aspect and the City of Richmond at least talking a good fight. I was impressed that Richmond’s Director of Intergovernmental Affairs, Amardeep Rattan, approach me after the discussion to exchange business cards, establishing a cooperative relationship. 


The Garden City Conservation Society commends the City of Richmond response to Port Metro’s land use plan. These are my notes for speaking to Richmond Council about it on behalf of the society.

We commend the City of Richmond response to Port Metro’s land use plan, with its implicit long-term intent to turn large areas of our agricultural land into industrial land. In that way, Port Metro is already turning prime parts of British Columbia’s agricultural land bank into its own industrial land bank.

Garden City Conservation wants to enable informed public support for your current action for agricultural and environmental conservation, along with the follow-up action that is bound to be needed.

Along with you, we want to alert the public to implications of the Port Metro plan for the Fraser Estuary and Richmond agriculture. To illustrate the challenge, I’ll focus on agriculture and mention five of the threats to it:

  1. First, the Port Metro Land Use Plan threatens our food security, especially since shipped-in food is not-at-all secure.
  2. Second, it threatens Richmond farming, one of our core industries.
  3. Third, it threatens our identity as the Garden City with a cherished agricultural heritage.
  4. Fourth, it undermines the Agricultural Land Commission role.
  5. Fifth, it undermines the role of our local government, your role.

That’s a lot of reasons for some of the City of Richmond’s proposed action but also a lot for anyone to quickly grasp.

Your proposed action cuts through to the chronic disorder that fosters the Port Metro threats to our agriculture: Port Metro acts like a law unto itself. In contrast, the City of Richmond action would make Port Metro more accountable—less a law unto itself. To have a chance, the city and its allies like Garden City Conservation must build powerful public support. I’ve earlier shown how the threats are overwhelming and not so easy to quickly grasp, but we do see ways to succeed.

For a start, the City of Richmond itself will need to clearly exceed the standards it expects of Port Metro. For context, we remind you that we’ve often had to ask council to respect ALR values. For a year and a half, for instance, we had to keep asking council to require Metro Vancouver’s land use map to show all of our ALR land with ALR designations, not a contra-ALR one. These days, fortunately, the trend gives hope.

Harold Steves and belted Galloway on the Steve farm at the west dikeA great step would be to make respect for the ALR more prominent in our civic culture by celebrating the ALR in its birthplace. Maybe the place for that is the kitchen table in Kathy and Harold Steves’ farmhouse with their belted Galloways nearby for ambience. Or it could be on the Garden City Lands. In any case, our museum has shown that we know how to celebrate our agriculture well.

The point is to treat the ALR as a godsend that we love—never as obstacles the city is trying to get around. When Richmond celebrates the ALR, the need will be felt. That will bring a surge of community desire to make Port Metro accountable, with hands off our farms.

For now, we wish you good progress.


  1. 1
    Olga Says:

    Jim, the first threat sentence looks unfinished:
    “First, the Port Metro Land Use Plan threatens our food security, especially since shipped-in food is not at all”

    • 2
      kewljim Says:

      Thanks, Olga! I’ve now added missing words to make this: “Shipped-in food is not-at-all secure.” Port Metro CEO Robin Silvester seems to think we can always import food, but that’s an unfounded assumption about a necessity for life.

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