3. The Development

At best, this will be like Buckley’s cough mixture: “Tastes awful! And it works.”

Take a time trip to Richmond Future.

You arrive at a field, and your time gauge reads Feb 12, 2010. In the clear morning sky, there’s a convoy of VIP copters, and a small plane tows a banner—welcome olympians.

You find you’re in the Garden City Lands, which you’ve known as 55 hectares of prime farmland north of Westminster Highway and east of Garden City Road. When you departed 2007, Richmond people wanted to keep it in the Agricultural Land Reserve, the ALR.

Here in 2010, you mutter that something went wrong. You focus on a rectangle of land about 200 feet by 100. There’s a construction crane, and around it a multi-unit residential building is growing from the field. The building is about 160 feet long and, with balconies, 60 feet wide. On the bottom level, there’s enclosed parking, enough for 30 cars. On the top level, you see penthouses with rooftop deck space. There are five floors in between. Seven levels in all.

You shift your timeship into fast-forward. Soon the rectangle is paved with blacktop, white-lined for about 15 parking spaces and an access lane. A developer’s billboard says “30 Luxury Condos.”

Your jaw drops as you see that first rectangle get replicated over and over to form a large parcel of dense construction. Narrow strips of grass separate the blacktopped rectangles, and roadways surround the parcel. You pause to read signs on the strips: “MegaLands Neighbourhood Park.”

Scanning all of the Garden City Lands, you see that close to two-thirds is parcels like that. The other third is remnants of the former field, scattered throughout, with signs saying “Public Lands—No Dumping” and, on gravelled areas, “Visitor Parking.”

Over at the 2010 City Hall, you find a huge model of the development, Garden City MegaLands. You ponder what you’ve seen and what might have been if the field had been kept in the ALR.

 You speed back to 2007 and visit the “Digging Deep Resources” page in the Golden Gardens blog. Ah, relief! You follow some of the hyperlinks to Garden City Lands resources, including zoning bylaw sections and a FAR guide.

You gather from the zoning bylaw that FAR is important, so you read about it. FAR is floor area ratio: floor area divided by lot area. After noting that balconies and enclosed parking don’t count as floor area, you estimate that the 2010 building you studied has 45,000 sq. ft. of floor area. You divide that by 20,000 sq. ft. of lot area to get a floor area ratio of 2.25.

Still in 2007, you sit back and reflect aloud: “Hmm, actually the 2010 building breaks the 2007 zoning bylaw rules for High-Density Residential, R4. It covers too much of the lot, and that floor area ratio is too high too.

“Oh, I remember! At City Hall in 2010, a MegaLands fact sheet said ‘R10, Mega-Density Residential.’ The City must have added mega-density zoning. Wonder what else that sheet said. Better get one!”

Once again, you zip forward in time to 2010 and pick up Garden City MegaLands MegaFacts at City Hall. “All figures,” you read, “are 2012 projections that draw on reliable sources such as the 2006 Canada Census and Richmond School District reports.” You notice projected data about the MegaLands:

·      5,000 residential units

·      14,000 residents

·      1,000 elementary students

·      3 elementary schools on Public Lands

·      7,000 cars

You time-fly to the present and tell Digging Deep about your 2010 experience. “There could have been much taller buildings with less outdoor parking,” you hear. “Still, that 2010 MegaLands is roughly what some of us foresaw if the field got taken from the ALR. But are we maybe in time to make changes in the present that will change that future?”

Grimacing, you chew on what you found in that future. You spit out “Tastes awful!”

1 Comment »

  1. 1

    On the development side of this issue it’s no secret that GREED RULES.
    Greed doesn’t care that prime agricultural land will be paved over, to be lost forever. (The Architect’s scale model of this site will show some strips of green here and there). Greed doesn’t care that in the long run, building up this area will add another 7,000 cars and their emissions and more stress on an overloaded road infrastructure. Or that another high density, high noise environment will cause increased demand on BC’s overburdened health care system. And finally, greed sure doesn’t give a damn about people – except in terms of how much money it can squeeze out of them. There is not a more base nor destructive human emotion than greed. We must NOT let it take root!

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