Saturday, February 17, 2007

Most won't be the slightest bit interested in this...I, on the other hand, am watching what develops here very carefully (ha, literally). Here in Richmond, things are rapidly changing. And, as someone who was born/raised here, I can honestly say that it's not for the better. I point a finger mostly in our current City Council's direction...those clowns think every square inch of Richmond should be covered in concrete/highrises in order to bring in the $$.

Richmond was a quaint little fishing/farming community for most of my life here. The change hasn't been a gradual one - it's happened virtually overnight...the last ten years seeing development on every inch of unused space. Now I'm not against change/development at all...it's stupid to think that things should stay the same forever and I welcome progresss. That being said....

There is a 55 hectare parcel of land here known as "the Garden City lands". It's not far from my place and when I worked for the DDA, I passed it every day. It is directly across the street from the nature park and is home to a number of species. It's not uncommon to see a coyote rummaging around out there - yet it's smack dab in the middle of the city core. It's a little treasure and not much attention was paid to it in the past as noone really even knew what it was. It was just a nice green space in what's fast becoming the ugliest fucking city I've ever seen. What a shame, my little "island city by nature" (which is how we promote ourselves).

Awhile ago (and tied into the 2010 Olympics) our city council began looking at this land and developed a proposal for its' use/removal from the ALR (Agricultural Land Reserve). That was a problem, as the Musqueam have laid claim to the land and it's currently part of the Canada Land Company (federal). It would have to be removed from the ALR to be developed and twice that has been rejected and the land has remained on the ALR. I actually wrote to the ALR commission during the last attempt by council to gobble it up for more development. They listened. The few of us that were involved made a good case for why we didn't need another flurry of condos going in to what is prime agricultural land. But if it was to be removed from the ALR, the city was quite prepared to cut a deal with the Musqueam which would see most of it developed for residential/business use. None would be used for agriculture. And that rattled many in the area who did not want to lose it to anything other than agricultural use. Any way you looked at it, it would involve a fight. And the city was prepared to fight/cut deals if it suited their needs. Just not now.

An organic blueberry farmer here countered council's proposal with one of his own that addressed their refusal to see the land as agriculturally productive. His proposal was to lease and grow organic blueberries on it. For the most part, the residents here supported his plan. Anything to keep agricultural land as just that is a welcome change from what's become the norm here. Those of us who have been crazy enough to stay here are fighting for what little is left of "greenspace". Most is quickly being devoured and on one street right now there are probably upwards of 100 rezoning/development signs. Enough already.

The latest proposal to be brought to council has been the best one yet (I think)....The Richmond Poverty Response Committee has tabled a detailed plan for the site, focusing on community farms and allotment gardens. It would provide locally grown produce in the heart of the city and would contribute to the local food banks. Sounds perfect....to everyone that is, but those damn jackasses on council (developers/commercial property managers) - they stand firm in their crybaby stance of "we don't wanna' do that. We want to do it our way". Seriously...I think I heard ten times "that's not what we'd planned on doing". Who? Us, the people? We didn't get a say last time I checked. Oh, you....it's not what you planned on doing. Tough.

You see, when someone else has a vision for the land council is quick to throw up their arms and say, "it's not our land, can't be done". But they fight tooth and nail if it's their legoland creations/plans we're talking about. Then they suddenly feel empowered and that the land could be made available somehow. They negotiate and work deals out. Kind of talking out of both sides of their mouths here.

Although residents are up in arms and have been flooding the editorial pages here with positive feedback regarding this latest plan, council's ignoring it and sticking to their guns. It's development or bust baby. I just finished watching the broadcast of the Feb. 12 council meeting and they're trying to shoot it down (again). Despite the fact that it's what most want here. You see, it's not what THEY want (isn't council supposed to look after everyone's interests, not just their own?...hmmm). My favorite council member (an old neighbour who went to school with Mom) really "gets" things - he's on board with the long term vision of residents who know that once this place is toast, it can't/won't be undone. That we need to salvage some of what we have left and not let the greedy developers have it all. He presented a very good case and was bullied, as usual. There were two others who shared his support for the plan and I know who's getting my votes in the next city election.

The secret's out and I'll be watching this one very closely. As Harold put it to the rest of council..."you've been shot down in your bid to destroy these lands twice now. Three strikes and you're out and I hope you'll let it die". They won't. They're stubborn and will probably be twice as difficult to deal/reason with now. I'm quite sure they're shocked and were unprepared for any other bids for the land. Especially ones that make sense and could be easily pulled off. Sort of threw a monkey wrench in to their plans of concrete and dollar bills. But they'll come out with both barrels pointed and continue to bully. It's how they operate.

I'm going to make sure that my little voice is once again heard in all of this...I'm going to compose another letter to the ALR. The only real interest this council has in this land is to get it off the ALR so they can get their grubby paws on it. It's situated on prime real estate. Those of us who truly care about this city want it left as is or farmed. This has just been cited as a truly unique area because of the farmland and the ability to create some real sustenance for the people here. With all that's happening in the world, this needs to be the focus and any plan that considers the environment should be carefully looked at and supported. Harold also firmly stated that it's time this council begin putting the environmental issues before the economic ones. Well said my man. It's so frustrating to have these clowns in power...those who vote for them are also on board with their "money is everything plan".

One council member actually did whine (it was pathetic) and he continually repeated, "this wasn't the plan though". It wasn't HIS plan, that's the real problem. And he also kept saying "but it's not our land". Which wasn't an issue to him when he was drawing up plans for ten more highrises there. Our council spews off about the environment, going green, etc., but they're full of shit. They talk the talk is all. They see nothing but money and don't give a rat's ass about this place - most of them probably are planning retirements somewhere else anyhow. This proposal has been highly endorsed by groups that take an interest in our environment/quality of life here...this should be a no brainer. But for those with no brains, it's not that simple.

(And I'm sorry, this is very "wordy"...this happens when I am passionate about something. And this one's got my hackles up. Our council treats us like stupid nobodies and tends to ignore the voice of the people here. That'll be changing soon...hopefully election time, if not sooner).

7 Comments:

Anonymous gledwood said...

Big shame but seemingly inevitable: where there is development, corruption goes hand in hand ...

2:56 PM  
Blogger Toccata said...

Good luck it's going to be a hard fight. We used to have a law about the height of buildings because of the earthquake danger but it got axed with the new idiot I mean mayor of Victoria. He himself is a developer and it's been rather interesting to see that ever since he came to power just how many little parks we have lost.

4:08 PM  
Blogger Deb said...

gled...exactly. it's so frustrating. You should see the densification plan they have for the city core - it's ridiculous. Yet the hospital and schools are already maxed out.

tc...the same has happened here. the council members who support the mutilation of this city are developers, lawyers and commercial property owners/managers. we're doomed.

in the new developments they're supposed to enforce guidelines that allot a certain percentage to low cost/social housing. Not only do they not enforce it, they're breaking the very guidelines they put into place.

4:46 PM  
Blogger Deb said...

oh, and tc - unrelated. The provincial gov't. has made a move to reinstate school fees for band, soccer acadamies and trades programs. :)

4:50 PM  
Blogger Toccata said...

Deb I saw that. I sure hope it works. Kids need these programs. I just cannot imagine school without the extra-curricular activities. Yuk!

6:00 PM  
Blogger Women on the Verge said...

I live in America... I know how frustrating it can be to have corrupt leaders intent on filling their pockets while they've got their fingers STUFFED in their ears so they can continue to completely ignore the people... UGH!

As for local gov't... we had a 100 year flood zone close to where I live. Beautiful with lots of old oaks, etc. I say had cause it was bulldozed down in order to put houses on it. We protested, screamed and brought in environmental experts pointing out that you don't build housing tracks in flood zones... of course, they went right on ahead. Now we've got this area that's been decimated and is spotted with few houses... why just a few?? Seems no on wants to live in houses that fill with water when it rains! And now, because the land has been razed, not only is there nothing to prevent erosion, but the water is flooding other areas as well. Greedy moronic assholes...

E

5:40 AM  
Blogger Deb said...

Pathetic, isn't it E? The ones responsible for making these decisions should actually be forced to bloody LIVE there themselves. I'm so tired of it here...just the very sight of our Mayor makes me gag. I've dubbed him the "Official Ribbon Cutter" as all he ever seems to do is pose for pictures, etc. AAARGH!

8:38 AM  

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