Richmond’s Garden City Lands plan going to land commission for approval

One city councillor argued for scaling back the plans saying the Agricultural Land Commission might not approve it.

A plan to create a food and ecological hub, a playground, boardwalks and other features at the Garden City Lands will be sent to the ALC for approval | Photo: Richmond News

The City of Richmond is sending a list of requests to the Agricultural Land Commission (ALC) to develop the Garden City Lands.

Two councillors, however, were hoping the plan would be scaled back, including to reduce the parking, on the 136-acre piece of land in Richmond’s City Centre.

The Garden City Lands are in the Agricultural Land Reserve, so any non-farm uses need to be approved by the ALC.

Coun. Carol Day suggested at Monday’s council meeting the plan be scaled back, saying it’s more than what was originally planned, and she said it could be rejected by the ALC.

City staff, however, said they’ve been in constant contact with ALC staff and feedback has been positive on the concept plans, which include an ecology and food production hub, a playground, boardwalks over the bog, a lookout tower as well as three areas for parking.

Alex Kurnicki, manager of parks programs with the city, explained the city put in several applications over the years for various components at the Garden City Lands. However, the ALC has suggested the city just put in one application with all future ideas for efficiency.

Each item in the concept plan, however, will come back to council for approval before it’s constructed, which means items like the parking may be not included or modified.

Michael Wolfe was the only other councillor to support Day’s referral motion, saying if the parking is included in the plan, future councils might insist on having it because it was included in the plan approved by council and the ALC.

Before the Garden City Lands were bought by the city for $59 million, there was a plan to have a park on the north side of Wal-Mart.

Bu instead, the money for that park was used to buy the Garden City Lands.

There is an agreement in place to use parking at the Wal-Mart complex for people going to the Garden City Lands.

Coun. Bill McNulty suggested that an agreement could be made with Kwantlen Polytechnic to use their parking on the weekends for people visiting the Garden City Lands.

As for the overall plan, McNulty pointed out it’s been eight years in the making and called it “doable,” saying “this is what we asked you (staff) to bring forward.”

“Take it forward so we can use it – we, the public,” McNulty said.

In the end, council voted unanimously to send the application to the ALC.

Richmond News