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City council asks province for pause on densifying Steveston

City wants to consult with residents of the 'distinct historical neighbourhood' about allowing multiplexes.

The City of Richmond is pushing back on Bill 44 – a provincial law requiring densification of single-family neighbourhoods – specifically in Steveston.

They are asking for an extension of the rezoning deadline of June 30 so that sewer infrastructure can be built before allowing multiplexes to be built in the historic fishing village.

The city has planned to spend about $9 million over five years to upgrade Steveston sewers that are reaching their end of life.  

But the city also want time to consult with the neighbourhood before rezoning.

In a statement, read by Richmond Mayor Malcolm Brodie at Monday's city council meeting, the city noted an extension would allow consultation with Steveston residents on the impact of Bill 44 on "this historic neighbourhood." 

Brodie stated there was "no stakeholder or public consultation" done by the province prior ot the bill's adoption. 

Furthermore, "there was no consideration of the impact and consequences of a ‘one size fits all’ approach for increasing housing supply on the character of distinct historical neighbourhood such as Steveston,” he added.

The province passed legislation in December that would allow for up to six units of housing to be built on single-family lots that are near transit with frequent service, and three to four units on other single-family or duplex lots.

In Richmond, there are about 27,000 properties that will be affected by Bill 44.

The city wants a pause on rezoning requirements for the area between Steveston Highway and Chatham Street and No. 1 Road and Seventh Avenue.

In the legislation, the province states extensions may be granted to zoning if a local government is in the process of upgrading infrastructure, if there are infrastructure-related risks to health, safety or the environment or if there are other “extraordinary” circumstances.

The city has budgeted $900,000 for sewer repairs in Steveston this year.

The 2024 capital plan notes that this is “part of a multi-year program to assess and rehabilitate or replace ageing gravity sewers in the Steveston area that are approaching the end of their service life.”

They have also proposed spending at least $2 million over the next four years on sewer replacement in Steveston.

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