Who is watching out for nature?
The City of Richmond’s updated 2041 Official Community Plan is inherently flawed in its approach to nature. It should be a proactive plan that respects the environment.
The plan reduces the conversation about the natural environment to the singular act of developing an individual property.
A reaction to development pressures, instead of protection that is established by a consistent city-wide process.
I do appreciate that the 2041 plan references a document for Environmentally Sensitive Areas (or ESAs) which contains many solid recommendations. Especially a proposed “new” city-wide ecological network.
Unfortunately, the ESA strategy is non-binding. It amounts to voluntary participation by developers. This does nothing to change a system that fails to protect Richmond’s natural spaces. Instead of a comprehensive, transparent and defensible plan, we remain with a piecemeal disjointed approach that does not allow for public accountability.
This problem was recently demonstrated by the city’s decision to remove the natural park designation from the sensitive upland forest habitat located in the West Cambie area. The West Cambie Natural Park will now become townhouses.
According to the ESA document there are very few natural areas remaining in Richmond. Only 283 out of 12,861 hectares (or 2.2 per cent) of land area is classified as natural. These spaces are being destroyed without an effective plan in place.
If you are interested in conserving the natural spaces in Richmond, I encourage you to engage with the city processes that are enabling developments such as the proposed Walmart one to proceed. Participate in the planning process for the Garden City Lands parkland, and join the discussion about what is happening to the Alexandra neighborhood lands across Alderbridge Way.
If these processes are an indication of business as usual in Richmond then the problems that may be created by the Walmart and townhouse developments will have consequences that go beyond the West Cambie and City Centre areas and impact our city’s livability.
John ter Borg