Highly accessible trails vital for Lands

rerouting central dike-road trailMay 5th tour info. Richmond News version. For related survey tips, scroll down.

Update: We have added an illustrated explanation of the value of rerouting the central dike-road trail from the route that is shown in the City of Richmond’s April 2016 plan. For a larger version, click on the thumbnail image at right.

Looking north from the main (west) entrance to the Garden City Lands, we see a seasonal pond, a grassy raised area (about 100 metres by 400), some vehicles that are moving along Alderbridge Way, the treed environmentally sensitive area (ESA, already compromised on the west side by Walmart site preparation), and the Coast Mountains. The treed ESA and the scene of woods and mountains are mentioned in the third and fifth points in this article.

Richmond’s central park, the Garden City Lands, is coming along. The planning focus now is on the arterial trails: the dike-road trail system of central and perimeter trails. Last week there were wonderful open houses—thanks to staff, consultants and citizens. A survey is online at Let’s Talk Richmond till the end of Mother’s Day, May 8.

Of course, the park itself is thanks to the community of Richmond. Twice (2005 and 2008), we had to ask the Agricultural Land Commission to keep the Lands in the ALR. We showed that ALR uses of the Lands offer more community benefit than the non-ALR uses the City of Richmond and its developer partners wanted.

Now, long after the Commission sided with us, we see glimmers of ALR respect in the City’s planning, with less weaseling around the ALR status. If the City adopts our desire to celebrate the ALR, the Lands can still become one of the world’s great parks for community wellness. You can use the survey to encourage that.

Oddly, only the first question is about the dike-road trail system. It offers two options about cycling. I favor the option with bikes on an adjacent path. That simply separates bikes from the wheelchairs, service vehicles, joggers, etc., on the main path. A safer choice, it helps everyone to enjoy open-land park recreation, an ALR activity.

Luckily, the survey has a “General Comments” box. I’ll use it to urge meaningful park access via free-flowing arteries for the lifeblood—us—in all seasons. I may add that opportunities to interact with agriculture, ecological conservation and related recreation around the Lands are as vital as clog-free paths.

As an example, my photo shows the Lands from the Garden City Road entrance in 2012, when a pond formed, like ponds in the plan. Now imagine you’re there in 2018. A sign tells your future self that the pond stores water for crops, and a dike-road trail keeps your feet dry as you commune with the ducks in the agri-eco-rec milieu.

For more now, come to the Garden City Lands eco-tour from the No. 4 Road entrance on Thursday, May 5 at 7 p.m. Besides tour guide Michael Wolfe, biologist Mike Coulthard of Diamond Head Consulting will take part. It’s priceless and free. Details at GardenCityLands.ca.

Since it’s spring, you may find it easy to get around, but you’ll also sense why a free-flowing all-season trail system matters. A crucial aspect is sufficient width for people to choose their pace—and pause to chat or find a nearby spot for tai chi. We need a main-path width of at least 5 metres, plus a metre-wide shoulder on each side.

The Let’s Talk Richmond survey is tricky, but my blog tips will help. (To reach them, scroll down.) I hope you’ll support year-round accessibility for Garden City Lands fans of all mobility modes, ages, security concerns, washroom needs—you name it. In any case, all informed input is good. See you Thursday!

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