Every 10 years or so, the public gets a chance to work with the city to revise its vision and plan for the future. It's an exciting process and people generally feel proud to be a part of it.
The city is now embarking on its new vision - the 2041 Official Community Plan titled "Moving Towards a Sustainable Future". It's our roadmap and you can help draw it.
Sustainability, with its many dimensions, is the key concept in Richmond's new OCP. It is interesting to consider some of the recent sustainability initiatives in which Richmond is involved.
Environmental sustainability: Richmond recently commissioned the Alexandra District Energy Utility, and the project to recover waste heat from underground sewer pipes to heat the Gateway Theatre is scheduled to be complete in 2012. Both innovatively capture energy to heat and cool buildings without using fossil fuels. Richmond also plans to re-use some of the natural gas recovered from the treatment plant on Gilbert Road.
What was considered garbage until recently is now a resource that allows us to turn food scraps and yard waste into compost.
Council recently approved the expansion of our food scraps recycling program from single family dwellings to include most town-homes - and soon, apartments, grocery stores and restaurants.
We are also making good progress on recycling in public spaces, especially at special events.
The city is also protecting its natural resources, including the remaining natural waterways within the city. For instance, we've started an extensive stewardship program around Bath Slough, located in north Richmond, to educate the public and assist in rejuvenating this important ecological asset.
Measures are also being taken to improve the quality of Bath Slough's greenway paths and banks to benefit all the users. An outreach program reminds local businesses that dumping into storm drains creates real hazards.
Richmond has added electric vehicles to its fleet. Grants have been obtained to support the installation of electric vehicle charging stations. As well, the city will soon introduce a number of reserved on-street parking spaces for the exclusive use of car-share vehicles. Fewer gas-powered cars on the roads means less pollution.
Social sustainability: Richmond has a strong tradition of social planning, delivering community services and responding to local social issues.
The upcoming Social Development Strategy is important as it will define for the next decade our priorities, roles, actions and limitations on social matters. Generally, our priorities include:
- Affordable housing;
- promoting our cultural diversity by including everyone in civic life;
- childcare, children, youth, and family concerns; and
- planning for an aging population as well as those with special needs.
Economic sustainability: Preserving Richmond's economic strength and stability remains a priority.
City Council's Economic Advisory Committee assisted in completing an Employment Lands Strategy to ensure we have adequate land to support our future economy. We can now formulate an economic development strategy that is resilient to future challenges.
We also want to ensure there is economic growth - and more jobs - for our residents. For example, our City Centre Area Plan will make the City Centre a dynamic area to live, work and play - so that people commute primarily into the city's core.
Additionally, we are enhancing our business, trade and cultural relations with Asia-Pacific countries.
Overall, the City of Richmond must maintain its leadership role and work with community partners to protect the environment, address social responsibilities and strengthen our economy.
To get more information on the city and its future in sustainability, check out our new Official Community Plan to the year 2041 at www.letsTALKrichmond. ca.