The Garden City Lands are smiling

Note: This article has also been published as one of my Digging Deep columns in the Richmond News (Oct 23, 2015). The title is “Things on the up at the Lands,” and it includes additional photos and insight.

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Garden City Lands location and topographyThings are looking up for the enhancing of our central park, the Garden City Lands. That’s because the City of Richmond has recently become firmer about systematic planning and ALR values on the project.

Concerns I’ve expressed to the Agricultural Land Commission, council and you readers are being addressed. Both Dave Semple, as the city’s general manager with responsibility for parks, and Coun. Harold Steves, as chair of council’s parks committee, have assured me about that.

In agreement with the city, Sustainable Agriculture faculty of Kwantlen Polytechnic University are now developing a comprehensive agriculture management plan for the lands. I see they’re engaged in thorough soil sampling on a grid of the whole area. This scientific approach joins an existing hydrology study in a welcome trend.

Adequate inventories of the lands’ vegetation and wildlife are also needed for a conservation plan featuring sphagnum bog restoration. If someone with the abilities of a Michael Wolfe focuses on key species such as sphagnum moss and native shrubs, sufficient information can be added fairly quickly to meet initial needs.

With that foundation, it should be possible to rough in good locations for dike road trails around the perimeter and through the middle of the lands. Then the city’s engineers could model the construction requirements for that infrastructure and optimize its water-management effects, taking the hydrology study further.

I’ve been asked to prepare some analytic suggestions for the parks committee. With our directors, I will draw on extensive knowledge gathered by the Garden City Lands Coalition, the citizens’ movement that saved the lands from dense development. As it evolved into the Garden City Conservation Society, we kept on listening and learning.

There’s a long way to go, but there have never been better signs of city resolve to treat the Garden City Lands as what they’ve always been. They are taxpayer-owned green space in the heart of Richmond, ideal as our ALR central park for accessible agriculture, conservation and open-land recreation for community wellness.

The lands are legacies from our past to steward for the future. The late Mary Gazetas, one of our founding directors, had a motto worth recalling as the Garden City community looks ahead in this saga: “Keep at it. It’s worth it.”

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This article is in marked contrast to what “The Garden City Lands deserve a miracletold this blog’s readers only four weeks ago. To get a sense of the sea change, review that article.

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