Letter: City of Richmond land sale in whose best interest?

Open letter to city staff, Mayor and Councillors,

Thank you for taking the time to reply to me about the sale of four parcels of land on Patterson Road (8911, 8931, 8951, 8991) to Coastone Investment Ltd. However,  I am not satisfied with the city’s explanation. 

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Since information regarding what land the city owns, as well as what it chooses to buy and sell, is not accessible to the public, there is no way for a resident to know if this current proposal is in the public’s interest.  

Decisions about buying and selling land are taken in closed council meetings, which means it’s hard for the public to have any input. Even your notice of intent to sell the land was slim on details regarding the size of the parcels and their current designated land use. I think these should be part of the public notice, and this notice should be published before you decide what you will do, not a legal formality after the fact.  

A few years ago, I heard about another city property near Sexsmith Road (where the Park-and-Go used to be) was sold to a developer. Despite so many developments, the building of affordable housing has stayed a trickle for Richmond. If the city keeps on this track, we will never make up the shortfall we have in terms of affordability for residents with local incomes. We can’t keep doing the same thing and expect a different outcome.

You have the tools needed to change this landscape of housing unaffordability. You have city-owned land, an army of skilled development professionals and tradespeople, and a surplus. You also have the ability to  fast track re-zoning and waive development charges. However, you have no concrete term goal as a council for affordability. 

As a city, we are neither doing our best, nor are we acting with enough urgency on this issue. Your bargaining for affordable housing and the policy tools around how you get community amenities set the bar too low for making a dent in this climate of housing un-affordability. 

Please know that you are acting on behalf for all of us, yet you are giving the best deals to a select few while not driving a “hard-nosed” bargain for most of us.  

Nita Sharma  

RICHMOND

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