2015 Neighbourhood Development Plan — Honourable Mention
City of Richmond, British Columbia
City Centre Area Plan
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Spurred on by its success as a co-host for the 2010 Winter Olympic Games, the City of Richmond, BC, has developed a suite of plans to ensure enhanced sustainability as the population of its downtown doubles over the next 25 years, and triples by the end of the century.
At the heart of the plans are six high-density, transit-oriented urban "villages" built around Canada Line stations (greater Vancouver's light-rail commuter system) and designed to promote walking and bicycling. The city will approve increased density for developers to help fund an additional transit station. In addition, density bonuses are available to developers who contribute to civic amenities including parkland, child care, recreational and cultural facilities, and affordable housing for seniors, low-income families and homeless people. Developers are encouraged to meet a minimum LEED® Silver certification — including green roofs on all high density projects — and raise the ground level of developments in the flood plain. The plans also include the expansion of the city's existing district energy services to use recovered heat from the city's sewer system.
The city's goal is to promote human-scale development and liveable neighbourhoods where its diverse population can live, work and play. The plans will reduce urban sprawl and alleviate pressure on suburban neighbourhoods, industrial areas and farmland.
- As an island city with a downtown area that is set to triple its population, the city's challenge is to evolve beyond its car-centred roots and plan for dense, transit-oriented development that will make automobile use optional for many future residents.
- Access to affordable housing is critical. Prices for homes and apartments are increasing rapidly and almost half of the city's tenants spend close to a third of their income on rent. More than 40 per cent of seniors live on less than $15,000 a year, and the number of seniors is expected to more than double by 2031.
- Protecting industrial/employment lands is critical as the city transitions from its origins as a residential satellite of Vancouver into a distinct community where people live and work.
- Richmond has a diverse population — more than 60 per cent of residents are from the Asia-Pacific region — and wants to retain traditional neighbourhoods as its downtown evolves into a larger, more urban centre.
- The city's location on a flood plain at the mouth of the Fraser River means planning for rising sea levels.
- Start the planning and consultation process early; don't wait.
- Find partners with common goals and ensure that agreements are clear and simple.
- Take advantage of private development to secure public spaces and advance community goals.
- Protect employment lands with long-term strategies aimed at adaptability.
- Be creative and take risks.