Contaminants found in former firing range in central Richmond

A hundred years ago, men would come to Lulu Island with rifles and pistols to practise their shooting at a firing range, a 136-acre plot now known as the Garden City Lands.

While this might have been a gentlemanly sporting activity for 30 years, its legacy is lead, arsenic, molybdenum and antimony in the soil.

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Furthermore, underground diesel tanks from the former Transport Canada communications towers on the site have left hydrocarbon concentrations – residual petroleum - that exceed acceptable levels for agricultural land.  

The Garden City Lands are now owned by the city and are slowly being transformed into farmland and bog with a perimeter trail, and this particular area is earmarked for crops.

The contaminated soil was found largely in eight acres in the southwest corner of the plot and a consultant has recommended that the best way to remediate the land would be to add a metre of soil.

This would have to be approved by the Agricultural Land Commission (ALC), but the city plans to do more extensive soil testing first.

Council approved 100 garden plots in the area, expected to be built in 2020.

An update on the Garden City Lands with the soil issue is being dealt with at next week’s parks, recreation and cultural committee meeting.

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