2021 City Snapshots: Planning & Development

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Thank you for visiting City Snapshots. The question period concluded Oct. 24, 2021. Please visit other information on this page and contact the City if you have any questions.

Did you know the City has many policies and regulations to guide the use of land and buildings in the City? Learn about this and more:

  • click the image below for a snapshot
  • click the links provided on this page for more in-depth details

Did you know the City has many policies and regulations to guide the use of land and buildings in the City? Learn about this and more:

  • click the image below for a snapshot
  • click the links provided on this page for more in-depth details

CLOSED: This discussion has concluded.

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    What is being planned to support small businesses and not for profits that require affordable rents in downtown business areas? The 'mall-ification' of Richmond mitigates against these valuable community members while development destroys cheaper spaces in areas where they are most needed. Streetfront commerical spaces below residential condos sit empty as the rents are ridiculous (seems developers tell stratas these will be massive moneymakers when, in fact, supported spaces make a better life for homeowners above). The large mall owners focus on capitalizing on possible residential and forging contracts that favour chain stores and often purposefully exclude small local busiensses. The current, rather shabby, Lansdowne space is an incubator for new and small businesses. I fear for the quality of life of Richmond residents as we tear down everything to build new forms that aren't working. May I strongly suggest Richmond staff and Councillors take a good look at North Van, where strip malls and small commercial developments seem to better support neighbourhoods (Lonsdale, Lynn Valley, Edgemont, among others). North Van has also supported innovative redevelopment of single family lots for small (two and three) stratified homes (see the teen streets near Lonsdale) that has added value and retained neighbourhoods unlike Richmond's 'keep density on main streets' focus.

    Julie 1/2n asked 7 months ago

    City of Richmond reply: Thank you for your questions. The Official Community Plan (OCP) incorporates an Employment Lands Strategy to support Richmond business, economic, and community needs and also includes provisions to support non-profit agencies and community groups secure office or program space, or funding (e.g., through senior governments, the lease of any surplus City space, negotiation with developers in the rezoning process).  A Council policy has recently been adopted to support existing non-profit organization (NPO) tenants by ensuring that community social service needs are maintained when NPO displacement would result from redevelopment.

     Regarding Lansdowne Centre, the recently considered master plan that will guide redevelopment of Lansdowne Centre is consistent with Official Community Plan objectives to minimize impacts on existing businesses during development.  To maintain commercial services within the neighbourhood throughout the phased redevelopment process, the existing mall will remain operational during the initial phases of redevelopment until replacement commercial space is available for businesses in newly constructed buildings.  


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    We are an island, and if more people and condos continue in Richmond should we not have more bridges and roads out of here in case of emergencies?

    ronaldo asked 8 months ago

    City of Richmond reply: In the event an emergency is located within the City, residents can expect to be supported by City staff and resources. While the event of an entire City evacuation remains highly unlikely; coordinated emergency planning is in-place to provide direction to the public in that extremely rare event. 

    During more routine needs, evacuations and emergency accommodations are managed on a case by case basis in coordination with our public safety agencies to ensure the timely and appropriate support of our residents. 

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    Will there be a complete circle of dyke trail?

    LULUCHU asked 7 months ago

    City of Richmond reply: Thank you for your question. According to the 1979 Trail Plan, the City has a vision to establish physical infrastructure around the perimeter of the island and internal trails to connect the perimeter. In our current Trail Strategy, we continue to build on that vision while incorporating further improvements. While we continue to build new trails and improve on trails with substandard conditions, we realize that there are challenges with waterfront properties privately owned or owned by other Federal/Provincial agencies that hinder the timing of some of our dike upgrade works. So while the plan is to have a connected loop, achieving it will take some time.

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    I sometimes wonder if there is anyone at city hall who looks at the overall picture regarding vehicle transportation. For example today No 3 road is down to one lane northbound. Minoru Blvd is down to one lane north and one lane south (for 2 years now), Gilbert has one lane north by Westminster Hwy (one dumpster blocks the whole curb lane and the project is finished) and one lane south at Granville with no left turn, Buswell is one lane by Anderson. Does this just happen or is someone in charge?

    madison1 asked 7 months ago

    City of Richmond reply: Thank you for your question. There are active construction work zones all over the City for development and capital works. Staff review and approve Traffic Management Plans (TMP’s) and ensure that:  
    1. Project & site specific issues are accommodated
    2. Any potential traffic impacts are reviewed and mitigated
    3. Stakeholders are notified of potential impacts
     4. Sites are evaluated and modified as needed

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    Where are plans for transportation that go through multiple planning areas covered.  The River Road through route from No. 1 road to Cambie Street has been slowly eliminated over the last 10+ years and I wanted to see if there is any future plan to restore it or implement something similar (or find the related transportation plans).

    Ed R asked 7 months ago

    City of Richmond reply: Thank you for your question.  The transportation plans are available in the Official Community Plan which can be found on the City's website at https://www.richmond.ca/cityhall/bylaws/ocp.htm

    Specifically, the transportation plan for the City Centre is at this link: https://www.richmond.ca/__shared/assets/23_mobility23839 while the city-wide transportation plan can be found at this link: https://www.richmond.ca/__shared/assets/OCP_9000_mobility34182.pdf

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    Re: Market Rental policy, since the AH Strategy encourages people to build secondary suites as A.H., how will the City ensure tenants in secondary suites has access to the tenancy relocation policy?

    dewhalen asked 7 months ago

    City of Richmond reply: Thank you for your question. Richmond tenants living in market rental buildings that are being redeveloped are offered assistance through the Official Community Plan Market Rental Policy, which includes relocation assistance. However, as secondary suites are not considered purpose built rental housing, this policy does not apply to secondary suite tenants. The Residential Tenancy Act, which is administered by the Province, outlines tenant protections for residents of all types of rental housing.

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    As an additional comment, rather than a question. I would like to point out that 99% of our road space prioritizes private occupancy vehicles. Our current OCP doesn't make one mention of the climate emergency we are in (as it is outdated) and fails to plan for a suitable Richmond for the future. I believe, while we are in the midst of developing our entire downtown core essentially, we have an amazing opportunity before us to position ourselves as a North America leading city of tomorrow. Instead, within the Landsdowne plan we have the expansion of 2 new 4+ lane roads to facilitate car travel, cutting right through a so called "park". We need to be designing a downtown that removes cars from the top of the pyramid. I am not advocating for the removal of all cars, just that their dominance in our planning decisions has been harmful to people and the environment and needs to stop. We need a true and authentic pedestrian first approach. Following similar approaches to what much bigger cities like Barcelona and Paris are doing we should be creating care lite spaces in our urban centres where streets are dominated by pedestrians and are truly shared by all users, not shunted off to the side so cars can come screaming past. This is doable, if there is a will. The knock on effects of having a city designed around the pedestrian will be vast improvements to physical and mental health, impacts that will have tremendous savings economically. Last comment on my rant (and thank you so much to the staff member tasked with reading through my ramblings, you're awesome!). I believe that we should be working with the province to amend the Motor Vehicle Act so that we have more control over the speed limits in our city. Countless studies prove that reducing the speed limit to 40km/hr or ideally 30km/ hour on the majority of roads saves lives. This is an integral part of showing that pedestrians are considered equal along side cars in our decision making processes. Thank you again for considering these thoughts.

    Evan Dunfee asked 8 months ago

    City of Richmond reply: Thank you for your comments and questions. The City's long range plan, the Official Community Plan (OCP) includes objectives on a wide range of topics inlcuding further prioritize pedestrians in the City. Related plans, such as the Transportation Plan, outline specific measures to achieve this over time. Such improvements are achieved through a number of avenues including capital projects to upgrade pedestrian facilities (signals, etc) and through requirements associated with individual property redevelopment (eg: road widening for sidewalks/street trees). On climate, while the current OCP was adopted in 2009, in 2019, City Council declared a climate emergency and directed staff to update the Community Energy and Emissions Plan (CEEP) which is currently seeking public input. This plan will provide recommendations which will be considered for inclusion to update the city-wide OCP. On the redevelopment of Lansdowne Mall, the inclusion of roads and pedestrian connections breaks up the very large site, improving permeability of the site and access to future park. The redevelopment will include measures to ensure pedestrian and cycling links to the Canada Line station as well as a mobility hub for car share, etc to encourage alternative modes of transport.  On speed limits, at the 2019 convention of the Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM), which includes Richmond, a resolution was forwarded to the Province asking the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure “to consider an amendment to the Motor Vehicle Act that would allow incorporated municipalities and regional districts to institute blanket speed zones in residential areas.”  The Ministry responded that it “is not planning changes to the Motor Vehicle Act to redefine the statutory speed limit” of 50 km/h within municipalities. 

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    Apologies, but I had more questions come to mind this morning. I was reading that mass timber projects have a sweet spot of being most cost effective vs concrete buildings from around 7-14 storeys (which is ideal in Richmond given 14 storeys is our current height limit I believe). Given that mass timber projects (with sustainability sourced timber) have an overwhelming positive environmental impact vs. concrete are there any plans to incentivize mass timber building for buildings over 6 storeys? Additionally, what incentives does the city offer for buildings adhering to passive house standards? Given the additional price upfront, and a longer return from energy savings there needs to be additional carrots offered by the city through zoning or waving of fees to make passive house building an attractive option. Do we count the extra thickness of walls in FAR? Could we or do we allow small increases in FAR for passive house? This might not make a huge difference for SFH but for Multi Family a small increase of a couple percent could mean a couple extra units which may offset the upfront construction costs. Finally, what rules does the city have around pre-fab components. It seems like pre-fab is an essential step forward to make our construction less wasteful, more reliable, and quicker. Companies based locally like Intelligent City look like amazing options for building and I am wondering if there are any unnecessary hurdles in our rules that prevent, or make more difficult, this type of construction. Thank you again so much to the staff reading through these questions and providing answers. I know these answers are out there and I should be able to find them myself, but it's hard to know where to start!

    Evan Dunfee asked 8 months ago

    City of Richmond reply: Thank you for your questions. On low embedded carbon materials - as part of the larger work of reducing overall greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from buildings and transportation in our community, the City of Richmond is also exploring policy and program options to encourage lower embedded carbon materials in new buildings, as well as civic infrastructure. With respect to infrastructure, the City laid an 800-metre stretch of new paving over a four lane section of No. 5 Road in 2020.  The paving features 40% recycled asphalt content, which is much higher than typical maximum 10% recycled content.  

    URL link: https://www.richmond.ca/newsevents/city2020/paving05nov2020.htm

    With respect to new buildings, the City of Richmond’s draft Community Energy and Emissions Plan (CEEP 2050), has several proposed actions that encourage the use of construction materials with low embedded carbon content. Please see 2-page summaries for the following CEEP 2050 Directions: Carbon Neutral New Buildings, as well as Transition to a Circular Economy. 

    URL link: https://www.letstalkrichmond.ca/ceep2050

    On floor area exclusions for thicker insulated wall assemblies - in 2018, the City of Richmond adopted a buildable floor area exemption into its Building Regulation Bylaw for thicker (than current BC Building Code) insulated wall assemblies in wood-frame (Part 9 of BC Building Code) residential buildings that result in lower energy use. In 2021, City Council approved new incentives for single-detached and duplex houses built to the top levels (Steps 4 or 5) of the BC Energy Step Code, or the certified Passive House standard. URL link: https://www.richmond.ca/__shared/assets/building4657805.pdf

     Following approval and adoption of the new Community Energy and Emissions Plan 2050, staff will investigate potential regulatory measures and incentives in 2021 that would encourage larger buildings to meet the top levels of the BC Energy Step Code or Passive House standard.

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    The title says “Questions and Comments” but the prompt only is for questions, so I first ask why is it set up this way? I will now offer my comments after reviewing in detail the presentation on Planning and Development. The presentation answers the question: “What are the Community Benefits of Development?” I’m disappointed to read the answer that is provided. It consists of a list of community benefits have been achieved through requirements and contributions from development. This ignores the community benefits of the development itself— provided in built-form and the accompanying public realm with new housing, retail and other commercial offerings, job space and leisure, food and beverage, arts and cultural offerings that make a whole community. Development should NOT be viewed as merely the payor or facilitator of publicly owned benefits and infrastructure. In a warped view of how we finance the infrastructure needs that a growing and developing community requires, we’ve adopted this notion that the only purpose of development is to provide community benefits that are not measured by the product of the development itself. In fact, the methods for financing growth in this part of the world that have evolved as the common practice over the last 30 or less years is the most inefficient financing methodology anywhere. It is discriminatory targeted taxation that taxes only the new homeowner for the costs of infrastructure required by urban growth. Moreover, that financing methodology is reliant on the most costly debt (that of a residential mortgage) and it is amortized over the life of a residential mortgage, which is munch shorter than the lifespan of the infrastructure being financed. Governments can borrow at much lower rates and could amortize that borrowing over the effective lifespan of the infrastructure that is being financed. Countless studies have shown how these calculations compare. CACs and DCCs are used in almost no other jurisdictions outside BC and the few jurisdictions in Ontario that have been influenced by BC’s flawed model. The planners who devised this form of growth financing had little education in economics or even urban land economics, which is not extensively taught in Canadian planning graduate schools. So, it is not surprising, but very wrong and sad that the list of community benefits from development are limited to these payor extractions. We will have much better quality development when urban planners who control the official public dialogue channels around development and land use decisions begin to broaden the discussion and look at the benefits of the development itself and not just the extractions that are made to fund public facilities, infrastructure and social benefits. These are the type of thoughtful discussions that are needed when communities come together and consider official community plans, neighbourhood plans and development applications. I wish my city would have the intellectual maturity to instigate such discussions. Perhaps, my desire to see this can only be realized with reform of the curriculum at community and regional planning graduate schools.

    brand asked 8 months ago

    City of Richmond reply: Thank you for taking the time to share your perspective. The forum is open for both questions and comments, the format is not intended to be limiting. There are clear community benefits to each development that is approved in the City, absolutely. The information on the community benefits of development was developed not to exclude such benefits but to help 'myth bust' a frequently heard concern from community members at times that only the developer benefits from development. In fact, as you well note, the development contributes many benefits from the uses (businesses, services, residential homes) to the quality of design of the product itself and how it contributes to the urban fabric. While concerns are often raised that new development brings more traffic, the information provided is to highlight the fact that new development brings improvements to the pedestrian realm, new bike lanes, contributions to traffic signal upgrades that benefit all users. CAC's and DCC's are one of the ways new infrastructure and amenities are provided in the City. Property taxes are one of the main tools used by municipalities to fund capital projects for community amenities and infrastructure upgrades. Development contributions and in some cases access to funding through grants and funding from senior levels of government also contribute. 

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    Have there been any motions from council directing staff to look at the potential benefits/ drawbacks to removing single family zoning city wide (similar to what Portland and Minneapolis have done) as well as removing mandatory parking minimums like many cities in North America are doing?

    Evan Dunfee asked 8 months ago

    City of Richmond reply: Thank you for your question. New provincial legislation requires all local governments to complete a Housing Needs Report by April 2022, with subsequent reports required every five years. The Housing Needs Report will be presented to Council at a meeting that is open to the public and the report will be published online.                                                                                                     

    The report will provide a snapshot of current housing need and a description of associated trends.  The report and associated data will inform work that is actively being undertaken by staff on a number of housing related referrals to support a diversity of housing options, including examining opportunities in established neighbourhoods and re-examining the City’s long standing single family lot size policy.                                                                                                         

    While the City continues to maintain parking minimums associated with different development types there are significant reductions in parking rates for sites located in the City Centre and in closer proximity to the Canada Line with provision for further reductions where Transportation Demand Management (TDM) measures are incorporated into developments (eg secure bicycle parking, end of trip facilities such as showers, car share spaces, bus passes, etc). These policies are reviewed and updated on a regular basis.