It’s been almost three years in the making and is the most important document to drop onto Richmond’s table in more than a decade.
An intense and exhaustive process of 16 public open houses and 45 direct meetings with federal, provincial, city and community agencies has led to the creation of the 400-page 2041 Official Community Plan (OCP).
The OCP, only the third in Richmond’s history, was presented in its entirety for the first time to city council’s planning committee Tuesday afternoon.
The plan maps out the city’s ultimate goals over the next 25 to 30 years and how it aims to cope with a predicted population swell from 200,000 to 280,000.
And while the previous 1999 OCP leaned heavily towards land use, the 2041 blueprint promises to pay more attention to the direct needs of the people of Richmond.
One highlight of the plan — which carries a “sustainable community” flag — includes a desire to get people out of their cars by connecting Richmond’s diverse neighbourhoods with a series of walkways that are accessible to all.
The thinking being that, not only will there be less cars on the road and less greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs), people might actually get better acquainted with their neighbours and neighbourhoods.
The OCP will aim to reduce the number of residents leaving the city by creating an environment that offers a broad range of employment.
And it seeks to collapse the figure that commute into Richmond every day by shaping a city that more people will want to live in, thus enticing the commuters to live where they work.
Providing housing, rental or otherwise, that’s more affordable will obviously be the key to convincing more people to live in Richmond.
A dramatic shift in the way Richmondites get around the city is also an ambitious goal of the new OCP.
Currently, 83 per cent of people drive; eight per cent walk; seven per cent take public transit; one per cent cycle; and one per cent do something else.
The plan looks to shift those habits into reverse, aiming for: 49 per cent driving; 22 per cent transit; 18 per cent walking; and 10 per cent cycling.
Placing the majority of the predicted growth in the city centre, creating transit-orientated and pedestrian friendly, high-density villages near the Canada Line are just two of the methods the plan employs to achieve the goal.
Other areas the new OCP tackles:
- Accessibility: Dealing with an older population, many of whom will want to remain in their homes for as long as possible;
- Densification of neighbourhood shopping centres: This will encourage people to remain in the local communities longer, thus reducing traffic and pollution;
- Exploring increase of city centre building height: Could provide a more varied skyline and help compact the community;
- Noise mitigation from the Canada Line and industry: Noise reduction measures in new buildings, both residential and commercial.
If approved by the committee and then council next week, the 2041 OCP will head towards a public hearing in November, to allow for several organizations, such as the airport and TransLink to view the plan and respond.
The plan can be viewed in its entirety on the city’s website at www.richmond.ca/agendafiles/Open_Planning_9-18-2012.pdf.