Planners offer rethink for Richmond

The commercial centre of Broadmoor is in the midst of redeveloping by adding apartments, townhouses and new retail space to the complex.  - Matthew Hoekstra photo
The commercial centre of Broadmoor is in the midst of redeveloping by adding apartments, townhouses and new retail space to the complex.
— image credit: Matthew Hoekstra photo

Richmond is aiming to cut vehicle trips in the city by nearly half, as planners envision a significant boost in transit use, cycling and walking by 2041.

Reducing residents’ reliance on the automobile is one ambitious goal outlined in the new official community plan, presented to city council’s planning committee Tuesday.

The 402-page document details how land throughout the city will be used over the next three decades. It also outlines how the city should be built, addressing everything from reducing greenhouse gases to boosting the local economy.

The plan, which took three years to draft, anticipates 80,000 new residents, 42,000 new homes and 40,000 new jobs to appear in the next three decades. Residents can view the plan at city hall and at A public hearing is tentatively set for Nov. 19 at city hall.

City staff have reimagined how residents will navigate the city in 2041. Planners project 49 per cent of trips will involve vehicles in the future—down from the current 83 per cent. To meet that goal, growth is being focused in City Centre, where transit-oriented, pedestrian-friendly developments are rising around Canada Line stations. And future plans call for more bike lanes and trails.

“I think it’s going to be extremely difficult,” said Coun. Evelina Halsey-Brandt, vice-chair of the planning committee. “We have an affluent population. Affluent populations tend to drive.”

Getting residents out of their luxury vehicles and into buses will prove difficult, she said, noting such a scheme demands better transit connections.

“Right now I don’t think all of the internal neighbourhoods are being serviced very well, and frankly, I think people are lazier today. I don’t think many of them are willing to walk six, 10 blocks and transfer over at the Canada Line,” she said. “And unfortunately TransLink doesn’t have the funding to be more convenient.”

Besides City Centre, other areas to experience growth are neighbourhoods surrounding commercial centres of Broadmoor, Hamilton, East Cambie, Blundell and Garden City. Broadmoor Village’s redevelopment is already nearing completion. It includes new retail space, rental apartments and townhouses.

Coach houses and so-called granny flats are also a new concept to the official community plan. The neighbourhood of Edgemere is the first area where such additions to single-family lots will be permitted—outside of arterial roads with lane access, where they’re already being built.

The plan also commits the city to probe the possibility of a change in skyline. The current building height limit in Richmond of 46 metres (150 feet) would be examined to give the city a new look while adding density downtown.

All that downtown building will come with new restrictions for developers erecting high-rises next to the Canada Line. The plan requires noise reduction measures in new buildings built within close proximity to the elevated guideway. It also requires similar measures for new developments where multi-family residential buildings meet industrial or commercial buildings.

Meeting the city’s greenhouse gas emission reduction targets—an 80 per cent reduction of 2007 levels by 2050—is also a focus in the new community plan. Strategies include requesting senior government funding and incentives and requiring developers of multi-family buildings to provide receptacles for electric vehicles in 20 per cent of parking spaces and pre-wire 45 per cent of spaces for future expansion.

The city last updated its community plan in 1999, when Richmond’s population was 168,700. The city now estimates Richmond’s residents to number 199,141.

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