Digging deep column: Things on the up at the Lands

Things are looking up for the enhancing of our central park, the Garden City Lands. 

Concerns I’ve expressed to the Agricultural Land Commission, city council and you, the readers of this column, regarding the city’s commitment to maintaining the lands’ agriculture status, are being addressed. 

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Both Dave Semple, the city’s general manager of parks, and Coun. Harold Steves, chair of council’s parks committee, have assured me about that.

In agreement with the city, the Sustainable Agriculture faculty at Kwantlen Polytechnic University is now developing a comprehensive agriculture management plan for the lands. 

They’re engaged in thorough soil sampling on a grid of the whole area. This scientific approach joins an existing hydrology study in a positive trend.

Adequate inventories of the lands’ vegetation and wildlife are also needed for a conservation plan featuring sphagnum bog restoration. 

If someone with the abilities of a Michael Wolfe, biology teacher and local advocate, focuses on key species such as sphagnum moss and native shrubs, sufficient information can be added fairly quickly to meet initial needs.

With that knowledge base, it should be possible to determine good locations for dike road trails around the perimeter and through the middle of the lands. 

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The Garden City Lands Coalition, a community interest group, provides its own public consultations. - gardencitylands.wordpress.com

City engineers could then model the construction requirements for that infrastructure and optimize its water-management effects, taking the hydrology study further.

I’ve been asked to prepare some analytic suggestions for the parks committee. With our directors, I will draw on extensive knowledge gathered by the Garden City Lands Coalition, the citizens’ movement that saved the lands from dense development. 

As it evolved into the Garden City Conservation Society, we kept on listening and learning. 

There’s a long way to go, but there have never been better signs of city resolve to treat the Garden City Lands as what they’ve always been: taxpayer-owned green space in the heart of Richmond, ideal as our ALR central park for accessible agriculture, conservation and open-land recreation for community wellness.

The lands are legacies from our past to steward for the future. 

The late Mary Gazetas, one of our founding directors, had a motto worth recalling as the Garden City community looks ahead: “Keep at it. It’s worth it.”

Jim Wright is president of the Garden City Conservation Society.

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