The latest draft of the Regional Growth Strategy Metro Vancouver 2040: Shaping our future was released for public comment in November 2009 and Metro Vancouver is seeking comments until February 5, 2010.

Reading this document, it appears that the zone defined as “agriculture area” by the regional Growth Strategy doesn’t encompass all of the Agricultural Land reserve set by the Province, so in that instance, the Region set a let ambitious goal for itself than the Province set for it.

More of concerns are the Richmond’s Garden city lands -an 136 square foot block sitting next to Garden city Road and Westminster Highway- and the National Defense lands connecting the former to the Richmond Nature park, both zoned as ALR by the Province, become the object of no specific zoning under the regional Growth Strategy.

Simple mistake

You could think it is a simple omission of Metro Vancouver, which should be corrected in the final version…

When the issue has been raised at the Richmond public meeting held by Metro Vancouver[1], the answer given by the Metro Vancouver Chief Administrative Officer, Johnny Carline, has been that “Metro Vancouver includes land in –agriculture area– at the request of the municipality [not the ALC]”, so the puck come into Richmond city Hall. The Richmond’s mayor, Malcolm Brodie, then attending the meeting didn’t commented on the issue…

In fact it could be possible that the city of Richmond has some plans not very compatible with agriculture or park land use for the said area.

Previously, it has floated the idea of an Trade and Exhbition Centre. Thought that the area is central in Richmond, it is neither

  • in the immediate, walkable, vicinity of the Canada line stations,
  • in the immediate, walkable, vicinity of Richmond’s major hotels
  • and in the immediate access to highway 99 or other highways servicing Richmond

so one could have think of a better location for such a development to minimize the traffic impact, Fortunately this plan died in front of the ALC which declined to rezone the ALR [2], but Richmond could have others plan in the card,…if not why not accept the ALR classification?

This land, still central, associated with the National Defense land has the potential to be part of a green corridor, or greenway, to the more widely open agriculture area of Richmond. Green corridor concept is an important one from an ecological and social perspective:

  • it presents an ecological continuum, allowing species to frequent an area otherwise not vast enough to sustain them (think of deer or other large mammal for example, but also smaller species)
  • The point above allow the urban population to interact more naturally with their surrounding environment. The nature presenting itself in the city invite the citizen to explore further unlimited area, by feet or bike (read “instead to drive to bike in nature”)
  • The preserved and sustainable nature, here mostly bog, creates a sense of connection with the original place (in this following the good example of the Terra Nova rural park)
  • the preceding points foster a new relationship with our surrounding environment able to enhance the livability of the city

Fortunately, some People [3] in Richmond having some goods ideas for the future Garden city land have organized themselves around a coalition to save Garden city land of human predation and expose all the intricacies of the problem on their site and blog. Visit them and don’t forget to give your feedback to Metro Vancouver before Friday!

[1] Minute of a Decision of the Provincial Agricultural land commission, February 10, 2009

[2] Richmond meeting on the Regional Growth Strategy, Thursday, January 21, 2010

[3] We should also mention Olga Tkatcheva’s letter alerting the Richmond council of the unfortunate “omission”.