Sandra Bourque I, Garry Point

Otto Langer and Sandra Bourque on the sand

This is first of three Sandra Bourque answers to questions prompted by Sandra’s help with the “Child of the Fraser River and the sea” article on this blog. On request, Sandra Bourque and her husband Otto Langer also dug up some photos for illustration.

Jim, you asked Otto and me about how citizens saved Garry Point. This will be a longer answer than you had in mind, but Im enjoying the walk down memory lane.

First, Otto reminded me that Garry Point was mostly my cause, not his. But he supported me, and we did take out a loan against our joint mortgage to put towards costs of the initial court case.

Several of us Richmond activists agreed to put our names on the charge (Bourque et al., 1978) that the city had met with the Garry Point developer after the public hearing for the proposed development had closed—and they had thus invalidated the proper process. We were all prepared to have to pay for the court costs if we lost. And for Otto and me, that would have meant remortgaging our house.

Bill Sigurgeirson provided free legal services for the initial proceeding, which we lost. Murray Rankin’s firm provided help for the appeal, which we won.

Basically the legal proceeding effectively stalled the city’s ability to approve the development and allowed those opposed to build the case against it in the public’s mind.

Over the next few elections (every two years back then), we were successful in electing some new councillors—Sigurgeirson, Greg Halsey-Brandt and Corisande Percival-Smith come to mind—who opposed the development, thus shifting the balance. Ultimately a city council agreed to purchase the area for a public park.

Once we had Garry Point secured for park, there were disagreements as to what kind of park should be developed. Harold Steves, Don Cummings and Evelena Vaupotic sat on the Parks Board committee, and so did I as School Board Rep since half the city’s parkland belonged to the Board. I pushed for a more natural sandy park with beaches, logs and natural plantings at most.

Luckily, my fellow school trustees and a majority of councillors agreed. Trustees felt that we had grown up with places where there were natural areas to hang out in, have campfires, dig and hide in the bushes—wild places where no one would complain about broken branches, picked flowers or trampling. The sand piles of Garry Point had been that for Richmond kids. We won, and so far no marina and green grass.

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