Richmond has become a ‘distinct destination,’ says Mayor Malcolm Brodie
Richmond has evolved from a suburban community into a “distinct destination,” Mayor Malcolm Brodie told a lunchtime crowd of community and business leaders Tuesday.
“It is a desirable city in which to live, work, play and visit. Yet, along with the many positive aspects of this transformation, civic government also faces significant challenges.”
The five-term mayor delivered his annual address at a Richmond Chamber of Commerce luncheon at the Sheraton Vancouver Airport Hotel. It was a departure from past practice, in which Brodie reflects on the past year during a regular council meeting.
Brodie’s speech carried a familiar tone of striking a balance of economic growth and sustainability. He was particularly conciliatory toward Port Metro Vancouver, a federal agency the city clashed with on several occasions in 2013—most recently in December when the province approved a new jet fuel pipeline, which had the port’s blessing.
“To achieve city objectives, we must collaborate with many partners, including other levels of government and agencies such as Port Metro Vancouver and the Vancouver International Airport Authority,” said Brodie, adding the port’s Richmond properties “represent a significant economic development opportunity.”
Also in December council also formally objected to a proposal to ship coal in the Fraser River from the Fraser Surrey Docks past Richmond. That decision now rests with port officials.
Brodie said the city will encourage government partners “to work even more closely with the city” in addressing climate change, rising sea levels, housing affordability, police services and environmental protection.
In Tuesday’s speech Brodie reviewed the city’s work toward accomplishing council’s goals for the 2011-2014 term, including that of strengthening the local economy.
Brodie spoke of streamlining processes for business owners, and noted several major development projects promising to bring thousands of jobs to Richmond. Those projects include development at the port’s Richmond lands, along with two projects led by the Vancouver Airport Authority: a Canada Post processing facility worth 1,200 jobs, and a new luxury outlet mall promising another 1,000 positions.
He also noted the significance of the Ecowaste Industrial Park, whose projected two million square feet of industrial space will create 4,800 jobs over the next 10 years. SmartCentres’ planned Walmart mall, which Brodie’s council approved last fall, also promises 1,000 jobs.
Tourism is also a key focus of the city’s economic development, the mayor said.
“Asian visitors are the biggest contributors to growth in the number of international tourists coming to B.C.,” he said. “Offering a wide array of cultural amenities, convenient transportation access and the shortest flying times to North America from most major Asian cities, Richmond is poised to realize an increase in the important tourism market.”
The city’s sport hosting program is part of that. Brodie said it helped secure more than 30 sports events for Richmond in 2013, and 15 more elite-level events have already been scheduled over the next three years.
“The sport hosting program has annually generated more than 20,000 hotel room nights for Richmond plus millions of dollars in economic spinoffs.”
Tourism will get a further boost later this year when the Richmond Olympic Experience project opens at the Richmond Olympic Oval. The museum will be the first North American member of the Olympic Museum network.