Letter: Where were you ratepayers when we raised a warning?

Dear Editor,

Re: “Too big for their britches,” News, March 13.

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A number of years ago I started writing letters to the media warning of the consequences of allowing the wholesale takeover of our neighbourhoods by shoddily-built giant, pseudo-mansions. It seemed quite evident to me at the time that the existing bylaws and codes related to allowable square footage, building footprint, and elevation formulas were providing developers and off-shore investors a clear field to impose their standards and values on our community, and only the totally naive would believe they had the best interests of Richmond and its citizens in mind when it came to their developments and purchases. 

Now, after so much irreparable damage has been done to our community and so many vital neighbourhoods have been turned into semi-ghost towns, people are waking-up to the fact that we have not only allowed the designing  of our community to be taken over by parties who are not the least bit interested in how their activities affect the social and environmental dimensions of life  for full-time citizens of Richmond, but we have also sold away the future as well. 

These houses are not homes, and never were intended to be such. They are not really even houses – they should be more appropriately characterized as safety-deposit boxes where wealthy foreigners can drop and protect their money. 

Look into the future and try to imagine what our neighbourhoods will look like 10-20 years from now. Canadian citizens and young couples with families will never be able to afford one of these out-of-scale monsters, and they will either be flipped over and over again to other disconnected off-shore investors and/or, because of their shoddy construction, fall rapidly into disrepair and be demolished for the purposes of building more unoccupied money shelters. Consider that there is a good chance that the residential neighbourhoods that are being so dramatically changed by what is happening will remain as empty and bereft of human spirit and soul as many are rapidly becoming today. Not a particularly promising legacy we have forged, is it?

All due respect to the initiative behind the formation of the Westwind Ratepayers Association and all those others who are now starting to become concerned about this issue, but I have one question to ask those involved: Where were you seven, eight years ago when the few of us who could see what was coming raised the warning flag? More astute and educated voting in our local elections back then would have gone a long way towards ensuring that you would not have to be forming such an association today!

But, to paraphrase an old adage: “Some are capable of waking up when they see the light, but others will only wake up when they finally begin to feel the heat.”

Ray Arnold


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