Photo courtesy City of Richmond
While reflecting and paying homage to the past, Mayor Malcolm Brodie’s inaugural address at Richmond City Council mostly focused on the future.
Brodie said as council enters a new four-year term with a mix of newcomers and veterans, “none of us underestimate the importance of our positions and will take every possible step to ensure that Richmond remains a great community in which to live, work, play and invest.”
Extending welcomes to new councillors Kelly Greene and Michael Wolfe, he said their energy, backgrounds and knowledge “will be of great assistance as we work together to provide strong, thoughtful and caring leadership for the city.”
At the same time, Brodie acknowledged the longstanding service of retiring councillors Derek Dang and Ken Johnston. He noted that collectively they contributed 39 years of service to Richmond and their insight into all the civic issues contributed greatly to the quality of our decisions.
“Our community owes them a debt of gratitude for their integrity and long service,” he said.
Brodie said the new council will have to meet some very high standards, and there remains much more “to fulfill our vision for Richmond.”
“As Richmond City Council has always been a model of collaboration and consensus-building, I look forward to working with this team to build a sustainable future,” he said.
Brodie addressed a number of issues, including managing growth and housing affordability; community safety; community services; transportation; sustainability; and responsible financial management and the economy.
Enjoying a strong rate of growth, Richmond may see another record-breaking year in building activity in 2018. Brodie said as a number of new projects are already approved or under consideration, the strong pace of growth is likely to continue for the foreseeable future.
“Council will manage this growth so that it is sustainable, reflects the objectives of our official community plan, and builds upon the high quality of life we enjoy in Richmond,” he said.
Brodie said growth is expected to fund needed infrastructure improvements including new roads, parks, childcare centres, public art and other amenities.
“Perhaps most importantly, thousands of new housing units have been built over the past decade to help meet the increasing demand arising from population growth throughout the city and region,” he said. “Thanks to our affordable housing strategy and supporting policies, many hundreds of these units are permanently designated for affordable housing.”
Brodie said two key projects scheduled to open in 2019 are the expanded overnight emergency shelter in the Ironwood area and the temporary modular housing project on Elmbridge.
“These will assist many in our community who struggle to secure the basic necessity of safe, secure shelter,” he said.
Richmond enjoys a low crime rate and is regarded as one of the safest communities in Canada. A key project for the coming year will be completing the new City Centre Community Policing Office to enhance service within the city centre by increasing police presence and reducing response times.
Over the last 15 years, council addressed community safety through an ambitious building program that included construction of five new fire halls and a major retrofit of a sixth .
Always a hot topic, transportation presents another set of key issues facing council.
“Community livability and economic viability depend in part on the effective movement of people and goods,” Brodie said.
Through an innovative agreement between the city and Translink, a new Capstan Canada Line Station will soon be built—funded through a special development levy on the construction of all new units in north Richmond.
A new bus mall immediately south of the Brighouse Canada Line Station is also about to be constructed.
Work is also set to begin on the new River Parkway, a major new arterial route through Richmond’s city centre to be completed in early 2020. It is meant to further reduce traffic congestion.
Regionally, Brodie said it is important that a solution be realized to address the traffic congestion on Highway 99 at the George Massey Tunnel. Working with the province, he said council must adopt a sustainable plan to efficiently move traffic while minimizing the environmental impact.
As Richmond grows, council will also continue to address residents’ needs for community services and facilities. While awaiting the imminent opening of the new Minoru Centre for Active Living which will effectively double the seniors program space as well as the pools, Brodie said the existing seniors centre will be repurposed to provide needed arts space. Additionally, he said the city continues to make significant progress for the Garden City Lands “to eventually become the new green heart of our community.”