Posts Tagged ‘Garden City’

Welcome to 2017 gathering—June 21st

June 7, 2017

Update after the event: Here’s a video of a few of the Annual Gathering participants doing Aztec dance.

Dear Friends of Garden City,

Join in our 2017 Annual Gathering on Wednesday, June 21, at the Richmond United Church hall. Our theme is celebration.

As our June 21st date coincides with the solstice, it’s a perfect chance to honour the earth—and to celebrate all who protect her.

And let’s dance together! A bit of dancer-friendly Aztec Dance will enable us to experience conservation in an ancient way.

Note: At left, Sharon MacGougan is dressed for Aztec dancing and holding a conch for it.

But taking part as a dancer is optional. In the circle, all will share in experience of the present that connects with past and future.

Along with celebrating past achievements, we will look ahead to future ones, celebrating the possibilities with a wishing tree.

Art teacher Suzanna Wright (left) will facilitate that with the help of her instant-art skills.

Suzanna will also be greeting you at the sign-in table, and you can pick up her Lulu Island Bog colouring sheets there. (Learn about them here.)

The event also serves briefly as the annual general meeting of the Garden City Conservation Society.

It’s free—no charge except the $10 annual fee for membership in the society. Looking forward to seeing you!

Let us know right away that you’re coming—or thinking about coming. Our Sign-Up Form allows for shades of maybe. Like us, it is unique and has worked well for years.

Let’s celebrate together!
Sharon MacGougan
President, Garden City Conservation Society, and Aztec Dancer

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DETAILS

Please respond:
Visit the Sign-Up Form now to express interest in the gathering and/or to enjoy the unique sign-up approach.

Timetable for Annual Gathering on Wednesday, June 21, 2017:
6:30 pm on: Sign-in, chat and snack (wraps, local strawberries, beverages, etc.
7:00 pm: Start on time.
8:30 pm: Celebration cake and time to chat.
8:45 pm: Clean-up.
9:00 pm: Bye!

Snack: Deliciously healthy finger-food and coffee/tea/juice from 6:30 pm. Delicious cake at 8:30. It can even serve as a light dinner if need be.

Membership in Garden City Conservation Society (to 2018 AGM):
Join/renew, $10 (cash or cheque), at the sign-in table or online (PayPal or credit card) if you support our purposes.* Donations welcome too.

Location:
Richmond United Church hall, 8711 Cambie, on the north side of Cambie Rd just west of Garden City Rd. Park in stalls marked B or C or unmarked. The hall entrance is near the northwest corner. Click the thumbnail at right for a larger image.

Aztec dancing: Click here to see Sharon MacGougan and her Aztec Dance team in action. In the 90-second video, they are dancing at a Mount Pleasant Neighbourhood House cultural event earlier this year. Click the thumbnail at right for a larger image of the team.

* Purposes of the Garden City Conservation Society:

  • To help steward the natural legacy of Richmond’s Agricultural Land Reserve area called the Garden City Lands for agricultural, ecological and open-land park uses for community wellness.
  • To research, educate and act to help steward other natural legacies of the “Garden City,” Richmond, in consultation with government and community.
  • To encourage respect for the legacy name “Garden City” as a community value.

Jaggs’ tree hugs beget kudos + encores

January 9, 2017

Gordon Jaggs. Tree Preservation Coordnator, Richmond, BCAre you engaged? Now’s the chance.

The engaging Gordon Jaggs is midway through his six-event Tree Protection tour. The ratings are solid.

Jaggs, who heads Richmond’s trio of Tree Protection Bylaw staff, uses slides of local trees and protective measures to illustrate his stories, with discussion welcome. That’s the first hour.

The second hour is “Q & A.” It includes questions about park and street trees—beyond the tree bylaw, which applies to private property. One can just listen, but most people have good questions.

The answers are also good, especially since Jaggs brings some informed colleagues with him, mainly parks staff, and they say what they think. Also, the public chime in. Sometimes Jaggs arranges to follow up.

People arrive and leave at any time, and no one minds. Some of the public even stay around to chat at the end, with staff obliging.

I gather that the discussion has varied quite a bit from one event to another. There’s so much to talk about in a get-together of residents and staff who mostly love trees.

There’s an event a month, always on a weekday evening at 6:00 p.m. at a community centre. So far it’s been Thompson, West Richmond and South Arm.

It’s Steveston’s turn next Wednesday, January 18, 2017. The final events are on Thursdays: Cambie on February 23 and Hamilton on March 23.

I’m happy about the events, but I’m not saying all’s well with Richmond tree protection. The stated purpose of the bylaw is to “protect Richmond’s urban forest,” and informed citizens don’t excuse the gap between that and reality.

At the South Arm event, several were outraged about the urban forest on the north side of Alderbridge (the “Walmart block”) that’s been wiped out. A staff member implied the better trees there were too scattered. I joined in to mention tree-moving equipment that could have resolved that.

Jaggs mused about encouraging the developers who save all the trees they can. I suggested ways to honour them, but he was hesitant. I suppose there’s not much support from higher-ups, since less-enlightened developers are dominant in Richmond.

After the West Richmond event, conservationist Michael Wolfe told “Save Richmond Trees” on Facebook that “Staff misuse the term ‘dying’ when claiming trees are suitable for removal” and “they ignore the ecosystem values of woody debris (e.g., for nesting habitat).”

More optimistically, he added, “Staff encouraged the crowd to speak at public hearings so Council can be made aware of public concern for trees.” If the crowd heeded, that’s a worthwhile outcome.

Sharon MacGougan, President, Garden City Conservation Society, Richmond, BC

If you take part in one of the events, there’s a good chance you’ll find the experience engaging—and worthwhile.

After the Thompson event, Sharon MacGougan, president of the Garden City Conservation Society, said, “This meeting style is a friendly way to communicate” and “Gordon Jaggs is good at what he does.”

To learn more, google “Richmond Tree Protection Bylaw.

Richmond Tree Protection Bylaw Information Sessions

October 22, 2016

Gordon Jaggs. Tree Preservation Coordnator, Richmond, BC

Update, Dec. 30, 2016:The City of Richmond is holding well-received Info Sessions on the Tree Protection Bylaw.  The first three sessions all went well. Take part in one of the remaining ones. Just click on the Info Sessions on the Tree Protection Bylaw for dates, times and locations.

The “Tree Protection Bylaw Information Sessions” are led by Gordon Jaggs (left), Richmond’s Tree Preservation Coordinator.

The evening are well attended, and participants have had plenty of good things to say about them.

The basic purpose of each of the Tree Protection sessions is to outline how trees are assessed for both retention and removal.  The format allows plenty about half the time for questions and comments.

Some of the other topics that come up:

  • The Parks Department street tree program
  • Innovative measures used during development to retain mature trees
  • Other tree retention projects


Sharon MacGougan, President, Garden City Conservation Society, Richmond, BCA note from Sharon MacGougan:

Garden City Conservation has been working with Save Richmond Trees, a group concerned about the significant loss of mature trees from neighbourhoods. I have made Garden City Conservation Society recommendations to council about this, and Cindy Lee and others have come up with Tree Group Strategies.

The information sessions are an opportunity to learn and have our concerns heard. Please consider attending one of the sessions to speak for trees.

Sharon MacGougan
President, Garden City Conservation Society

New-house bylaw leads to waste and loss

August 5, 2015
This older 2.5-storey house is 7.7 metres high. The white chevron shows the height limit for new Richmond houses, 9 metres. The red chevron shows “phony height,” an actual 10.5 metres that counts as 9 metres. (As well, a new house could have a higher site grade and 75% more floor area.)

This older 2.5-storey house is 7.7 metres high. The white chevron shows the height limit for new Richmond houses, 9 metres. The red chevron shows “phony height,” 10.5 metres that counts as 9 metres. (As well, a new house could have a higher site grade and 75% more floor area.)

There’s a quick way to assess council action on development. Just ask, “Does it help Richmond to be the Garden City?” Yes = Pass. No = Fail. The “half-assed house bylaw” fails. That nickname (from Coun. Carol Day) refers to proposed rule changes to alter how new houses affect their neighbours.

The future of our neighbourhoods depends on the house bylaw. If fixed, it can rescue hope. If not fixed, it can stifle the Garden City dream.

On council, only Carol Day and Harold Steves have looked ahead and cared, and we need them to keep it up. The rest are good people too, and we need them to wake up or step down.

The worst flaw is easy to fix. Simply define house “height” in the obvious way. In bylaw terms, it’s the vertical distance between finished site grade and the highest point.

The flaw came to light when a 2008 bylaw that was supposed to curb house height began to spawn taller houses instead. Citizens found that the bylaw had changed “height” to mean the distance to halfway up the roof. Mind-boggling!

With phony height like that, houses are built 1.5 metres taller than their supposed height. Neighbours are robbed of their sunlight.

It seemed the 2015 house bylaw would finally measure Richmond house height to the top of the roof, as in the rest of the world. But no, the details reveal that phony height still applies to “2.5-storey houses.” That turns a low-waste concept into high waste.

The photo shows an older home of 2.5 storeys. The big window below the peak, along with a skylight, lets the small half-storey fill with natural light. It was designed as an art studio.

With half-storeys like that, builders create living space—within the height of a 2-storey house—where there might have been attic voids. The building is also likely to have a smaller footprint, since the floor area is split among three floors. That can leave more of the lot area for nature and gardens.

A true 2.5-storey house tends to be affordable and eco-friendly, taking less building material, upkeep and heating. By nature it suits medium-height ceilings, although the house I’ve shown has a high vaulted ceiling in the front.

I’ve added a white chevron to the image. It shows a roofline at the stated house height limit, 9 metres. That’s enough for 2.5-storey houses, but the bylaw still adds an uncounted 1.5 metres.

The red chevron shows the effect. Besides being far higher than the stated limit, it puts the structure outside the concept of 2.5-storey houses.

But phony 2.5-storey houses would excel as trophy houses, imposingly tall and self-indulgent. Sooner or later, they’d be looming above our neighbourhoods and killing them.

We’ve pleaded with regressive council members to stop the phoniness. We’ve implored them to respect our homes, the Garden City and our quality of life. It’s high time to be heeded.

The public hearing is on September 8. The “house bylaw” it addresses has been split into Bylaws 9280 and 9281.

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A version of this article was published as a column in my “Digging Deep” series in the Richmond News on August 12, 2015. The title there is House bylaw’s phoney height is a real waste.”