Google Maps screenshot
New back alleys in an existing neighbourhood are coming.
Their appearance will depend in part on feedback given by local residents.
Participatory democracy is defined as: individual participation by citizens in political decisions and policies that affect their lives, especially directly rather than simply through elected representatives. In some countries, once elected, officials act as they please regardless of public sentiment.
But in Canada, elected officials are expected to listen to public input. This is just such an example.
The City of Richmond is seeking opinions on a new laneway being built in Steveston, behind existing houses.
While people have used these rights-of-way as part of their back yards, they have always belonged to the city.
Few owners ever check their property title to see if they have a right-of-way or allowance anywhere in their yard. This information is on land titles and on maps the public can access at Richmond City Hall.
According to the City, the current options offered are: paved lane, green swale lane, country lane and bikeway. Each offers a very different look and feel for an existing neighbourhood.
Coun. Alexa Loo says the sanitary sewers under the proposed route are exceedingly old and in poor condition, thus the reason for the much-needed replacement.
The sewer runs east-west along the back of properties between No. 1 Road and Second Avenue for houses on Broadway and Chatham streets.
Each of those houses has a right-of-way running along the back of their property. While the right-of-way will be dug up and the land disturbed during the sewer work, the city hopes to use that opportunity not only for access during the work, but for the public in future.
According to city spokesperson Ted Townsend, Richmond residents can provide their say on this project in two ways: in person or online.
“Two public open houses will be held at the Steveston Community Centre, 4111 Moncton St., on Wednesday, Jan. 10 and Wednesday, Jan. 17 from 5 to 7 p.m. in the Great West Room,” he says.
Information boards detailing the options and feedback forms will be available at the open houses. City staff will be in attendance to answer questions and provide additional information. Public input will also be sought on other design measures, including traffic calming options.
“In addition,” Townsend says, “From Wednesday, January 10 through Sunday, January 28, interested individuals can visitwww.LetsTalkRichmond.cafor more information on the lane options and complete the online version of the feedback form.
Even though the city is clear it has no plans to create laneways anywhere else in Richmond, these design decisions may become a factor as more sewer upgrades progress in our municipality.
What is done in this short stretch of Steveston backyards may become the norm, so citizen input now could make a difference in the future.
Townsend says, “While the consultation will be of primary interest to the residents along the lane currently being considered, all members of public are invited to provide input as the City may utilize this feedback in the future.”