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Densification of south Richmond needs regional buy-in

To bring light rail to Steveston, staff estimate the population along the Railway Avenue corridor would need to increase by 77,000.
Richmond city staff don't recommend pursuing rapid transit along Railway Avenue corridor.

Richmond council could consider densifying the Railway Avenue corridor so it could support rapid transit.

But city staff caution that the needed density would be greater than that of No. 3 Road in city centre and it would be up to TransLink to decide whether to bring in light rapid transit or not.

More than a year ago, council asked staff to look at the possibility of densifying the corridor and this will come up at Wednesday’s planning meeting.

Up until the late 1950s, there was a tram that travelled through Richmond from Vancouver, ending in Steveston.

The densification scenarios to support rapid transit that city staff created would result in 77,000 more people living along the Railway Corridor – increasing the entire population of the city by 30 per cent – and would include buildings up to 12 or 15 storeys high at key intersections.

This type of densification would necessitate making changes to the regional growth strategy of the Metro Vancouver 2040 plan, something that would require regional buy-in.

“City Council does not have the authority to increase the City’s population and employment projections if they are inconsistent with the (regional growth strategy),” the report to council states.

Furthermore, this level of density would encroach on single-family areas, and the employment in this densified area would draw from other areas that are designated for commercial and office use.

The staff report also notes Richmond’s city centre is a planned dense neighbourhood with community, cultural, recreational and social services.

There are no plans for similar services along the Railway corridor.

The recommendation from staff is to not do at any more feasibility studies for rapid transit to Steveston.

However, staff identified 18 sites with 189 lots that could be densified more than currently planned, and they recommend launching a consultation with the community and industry on densifying these sites.

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