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City of Richmond relents on controversial Steveston laneway

Residents to get the chance to go green with city's access route through backyards
Chris Back (right) and Vito Albanese are two of about 32 Steveston residents unhappy about the City of Richmond cementing a laneway on its own land, but through their backyards, without consultation. Photo by Alan Campbell/Richmond News

Whether it’s in the spirit of Christmas or compromise, the City of Richmond has shifted its position on the controversial paving of a laneway in Steveston.

The Richmond News reported earlier this month how the majority of residents on Richmond and Broadway streets — between No. 1 Road and Second Avenue – were raging over the city’s decision to cement a 15-foot wide laneway through their backyards, to apparently have easier access to its sewer system.

Although the new thoroughfare is on city land and will definitely go ahead – some of it has already started – residents are getting more say on what the new laneway will actually look like.

The city announced Thursday morning a pair of open houses in January, as well as holding an 18-day, online survey on the options for laneway, including paving, green swale (a low tract of land or natural landscape), a country lane or a bikeway.

The open houses will be held at the Steveston Community Centre on Wednesday, Jan. 10 and Wednesday, Jan. 17 from 5 to 7 p.m.

Information boards detailing the options and feedback forms will be available at the open houses and city staff will be on hand to answer questions and provide additional information. 

Public input, said the city, will also be sought on other design measures, including traffic-calming options.

In addition to the open houses, from Jan. 10 through 28, people can go online to for more information on the lane options and complete the survey.

The city, in its news release, said that, while the consultation is likely of most interest to the residents affected, all members of the public are invited to provide input as the city may utilize this feedback in the future.

“It is important to note that the City has no specific plans to develop any other unopened lane dedications at this time,” the release added. “Consistent with Council Policy 9016, lanes will only be constructed where there is a City-owned lane dedication and access is required for sewer or other infrastructure replacement.”

Residents with questions about the sewer repair project may contact:

Ben Dias, manager of sewerage and drainage, by email at or call 604-244-1207.

For lane design queries, contact:

Milton Chan, manager of engineering design and construction by email at or call 604-276-4377.

For questions regarding the public consultation, contact:

Ted Townsend, director of corporate communications and marketing, by email at or call 604-276-4399.

Note that city hall is closed between Dec. 22 and Jan. 1.

The News reported earlier this month how the residents affected by the laneway construction – led by Chris Back, of Richmond Street – twice lobbied city council for support on the issue.

However, with the exception of Coun. Carol Day, their pleas apparently fell on deaf ears and the project continued unabated, until this week.

Back, although acknowledging the city did own the land his extended backyard was on, cited concerns over safety, public nuisance and loss of green space.

He said he was more upset with the lack of consultation and consideration of alternatives to a paved laneway.

And he claimed that he was told early in the process by city’s director of engineering that the laneway in question was not needed for sewer system access.

Richmond has more than 45 kilometres of opened and unopened lanes, such as the one at issue in Steveston.

About 85 per cent of the city-owned laneways are opened — as in constructed — while only 40 per cent are open in Steveston.

The city has said that it may, over time, open up the rest of the laneways for various reasons, but has no “master plan” for doing so.

The affected residents had also started up a website in a bid to halt the paving.

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