Mayor says future bright in Richmond, but pipeline still in play

Richmond's mayor described a thriving city in an annual address Monday that brimmed with optimism while cautioning one battle fought in 2012 isn't over.

Malcolm Brodie described victories in adopting a new Official Community Plan and convincing Vancouver Airport Authority to relocate a planned luxury outlet mall near the Canada Line—and away from Russ Baker Way.

But, he said, the city can't control all planning decisions that could impact quality of life. A proposal to ship jet fuel to Riverport and pump it 15 kilometres across Richmond through an underground pipeline to the airport is still alive—despite opposition from council and some residents.

"Council is adamantly opposed to the current proposal or any option requiring jet fuel to be shipped through the sensitive Fraser River estuary," he said. "Though final approval for this project may be made by senior governments, Richmond council will insist that our community concerns be taken into account."

The project—pitched by the Vancouver Airport Fuel Facilities Corporation—is currently under review by the B.C. Environmental Assessment Office.

On Monday a director of a citizens' group called for further study of potential risk.

"It boggles my mind why anyone would locate a hazardous 80 million litre tank farm and marine terminal unloading up to a 100,000 tonne Panamax tanker containing highly toxic and flammable jet fuel on seismically unstable ground, only 400 metres from a condominium, entertainment and sports complex on the banks of the Fraser River," said Jim Ronback of VAPOR in a letter to officials.

During his speech Monday, the mayor also noted council's fear of Port Metro Vancouver using local farmland to expand its industrial base in southeast Richmond.

"Our concern was triggered when the port purchased a farm in East Richmond. The city is adamant about protecting its remaining farmland. We have strongly advised the port and federal agencies of our concerns."

Brodie also highlighted a new community plan he described as the city's most comprehensive one yet—one that locates most new growth in the heart of the city.

"A new Richmond City Centre is now starting to emerge, where we are mostly building upwards rather than encroaching on valuable agricultural areas or single family neighbourhoods," he said.

Richmond's future downtown will feature a series of urban villages along the Canada Line with buildings pulled to the street, instead of parking lots.

The five-term mayor also noted a host of new civic buildings expected to take shape. First is the City Centre Community Centre, set to open in late 2014 as part of the Quintet development on No. 3 Road. Brodie said city council is now "finalizing" a major facilities capital plan, expected to include plans for two new fire halls, and replacements for the aging Minoru Aquatic Centre and cramped seniors centre.

Year-old figures suggest a new Fire Hall No. 1 will cost $16 million, a seniors centre $24 million and a pool another $56 million

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