Digging Deep column: Lands could be an international model

The City of Richmond project to enhance the Garden City Lands is gaining momentum, so let’s work together to make it one of the best central parks in the world.

The community has always wanted the Lands to support agriculture, ecological conservation and open-land park recreation for community wellness. What will it take to do that?

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- Adhere to the values of the Agriculture Land Reserve. 

- Draw on the wisdom and insight of the Garden City Conservation Society. It exists to help in exactly this situation.

- Ensure accessibility. Design the infrastructure — such as dike-road trails — for wheelchairs, mobility walkers and strollers.

- Build capacity. Ensure trails are wide enough for the highest anticipated use, looking far ahead. It might also mean a long and narrow parking area on the Lands beside No. 4 Road.

- Be radically inclusive. Take the perspectives of people living with poverty, social anxiety, security concerns when near woods, need for nearby washrooms, etc. (This will benefit all users.)

- Encourage agricultural diversity. Also, anticipate how much land will be needed for community gardens in the future (ten hectares?), and ensure that interim uses will improve the soil. 

- Use dike-road trails around the restorable sphagnum bog on the east side, and act promptly to implement a range of bog restoration methods.

- Save the southwest fen, a distinct and thriving ecosystem with native pollinators. Also, consider a bird-oriented feature like the Terra Nova Natural Area.

- On the north edge, re-establish a mixed urban forest by transplanting trees that would be lost with demolitions. Also, honour the perseverance of the Lands’ pioneer trees — the truncated shore pines and crabapple trees.

- Protect the green viewscapes and salvage the lost ones. A viewscape takes in everything from a viewing point all the way to distant features such as mountains. As it is now, people get angry when they look north across Alderbridge at the destruction by construction.

- Make the Lands an example of Richmond’s Ecological Network Management Strategy, an outstanding plan to put into action.

- Live up to our role as a model for the world. (IESCO, a UN affiliate, selected us as an International Eco-Safety Demonstrative City in 2010.)

- The deadline for feedback is June 12. Join the conversation via Let’s Talk Richmond.ca. 

Jim Wright is president of the Garden City Conservation Society.

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