1) Urban Forest Management Strategy - Feedback deadline November 11th
The City of Richmond requests input into an Urban Forest Management Strategy currently being developed to guide how the City will protect and manage trees on public and private land.
Visit LetsTalkRichmond.ca before November 12 (11:59 p.m.) to view information & complete the online survey.
Public feedback received will be considered and provided in the proposed Urban Forest Management Strategy due for Council consideration in 2018.
2) Richmond MEGA homes on ALR farmland - Bylaw review
This week City Council is conducting a 6 month review of their bylaw that allows larger homes on ALR land in Richmond. If you are concerned, please take a moment to contact the mayor and council. Below is a template from Richmond Farm Watch (http://farmwatchbc.blogspot.ca/) that can be used to cut and paste into an email...
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Dear Mayor and Councillors,
I am asking that as you review the bylaw regarding residential development in the Agricultural Zone, that you reverse your decision and vote instead to follow BC Ministry of Agriculture guidelines regarding house size. Speculation happens when larger houses are allowed on agricultural ALR land compared to residential zoned land. City Council needs to recognize and protect this precious resource that exists in Richmond, Richmond soils are prime farmland and should be used for growing food not mansions.
The 'Richmond Special' style of house construction is notable for having long projecting 2-3-or-4 car garages, brick fences and gated driveways covering the front yard, limited side and backyards, impacting neighbours enjoyment, privacy, and sunshine. We need effective controls that...
1) Increase setbacks
- Increase back yards to 30 feet (currently 20 feet on standard 120 foot lot).
- Increase setback and eliminate projections into sideyards.
2) Reduce projections
- Address large projecting garages (2-3-4 car garages) and other detached structures. Encourage livable space above garages.
- Eliminate brick walls, gates and other unwelcoming structures from entrances in residential neighbourhoods
3) Increase green space
- Increase 'green space' requirements and protect mature trees.
Limit driveways to 6 meters in width (eg. Surrey, Delta) and increase landscaped areas.
Richmond compared to other cities.The same walkable area (FSR), the same number of blue blocks. But in Richmond new houses are built with excessive footprints and aggrandized rooms because of weak bylaw controls.
The 'Richmond Special' is particularly destructive to trees. The long projecting 2-3-or-4 car garages and large gated driveway pushes the house back just 20 feet off the rear property line. Many mature trees and the opportunity for trees is lost as a result.
Richmond has the weakest building controls in Metro Vancouver. The City has promised backyard and sideyard relief from building massing. Protection of backyards, privacy, and sunlight were consistent themes of many presentations to council. While the proliferation of excessive overheight spaces in new houses continues, Council's referral motion to staff has been an ongoing investigating for two years now.
At this point if the City of Richmond only aimed to be AVERAGE it would be an improvement.
There is a definite connection between the loss of mature trees and the footprint of new house construction in Richmond's single family neighbourhoods. And this is a reason why we would like to see better urban forest tree canopy policies reflected in the City's bylaws.
WRAPd supports the following: Recommended Building and Tree Protection Bylaw Changes (June 19, 2016)
Building and Tree Protection Bylaw Changes
June 19, 2016
Save Richmond Trees recommends the City adopt the following strategies to guide Bylaw changes:
A. Richmond must save mature trees on private land (where most trees are growing). This strategy recognizes:
The value of mature trees
The environmental, health and green infrastructure benefits of large trees
B. Richmond must vastly reduce the loss of trees caused by new construction.
1. Re-balance the building footprints for more tree retention
- Tree loss due to construction must be replaced on the same lot (not on public lands) Recommended Tree Protection Bylaw changes:
2. Increase the fees for cutting down a tree and significantly increase fines for contravening the Bylaw.
- To create a meaningful disincentive for cutting down healthy trees.
3. Amend Bylaw to remove the ability for an owner or builder to remove one healthy tree per year.
- Permits issued for the removal of dead, diseased, and hazardous trees only (eg. Vancouver) http://vancouver.ca/home-property-development/tree-removal-permit.aspx
4. Any trees that are removed (whether hazardous or permitted for removal) must be replaced on the same lot.
- Protects trees (on private property) where the majority of Richmond’s population resides
5. Provide Tree Protection staff with the mandate and powers to require builders to adjust plans to retain significant trees.
- Re-balance approval process so construction preferences do not always “trump” tree retention
- For example: relocate driveways to retain significant trees
- Consider applications to remove trees in conjunction with redevelopment permit reviews
- Include tree survey / tree retention plan with residential Building Permit Application Requirements (design checklist)
Recommended Building Bylaw changes:
1. Increase minimum backyard setbacks to 30 feet (currently 20 feet) on a standard 120 foot lot (with proportional increases for smaller lots).
- Most trees and green space are lost due to minimal setbacks (Richmond has some of the lowest setbacks in Metro Vancouver)
- Current low setbacks encourage house designs with no regard for tree retention (such as 3 car garages set in front, pushing house structures to the very rear of lot)
2. For new construction, must achieve a minimum of 2 trees, from City-approved lists, and 2 shrubs by retention and planting on a single family building lot.
3. Ban new construction of brick walls and gates from entrances in residential neighbourhoods.
- Causes the loss of many mature trees close to property lines (where they are commonly located)
- Other municipalities (eg. Surrey) have controlled these unwelcoming structures http://www.surrey.ca/files/General_Guide_to_Driveways.pdf
4. Enforce current side yard setbacks.
- Retain room for trees and vegetation
- Eliminate projections into setbacks
5. Address large projecting garages and other detached structures.
- Encourage livable space above garages
6. Adjust bylaws and strengthen enforcement to increase area covered by live plant material.
- Current new construction practice results in far less than 30% living plant material on site (actual coverage approx. 15 – 20%).
- Limited green space impacts the opportunity for trees
- Protection is needed for other significant plants (including hedges and shrubs)
- Limit driveways to 6 meters in width (eg. Surrey, Delta) and increase landscaped areas. http://www.surrey.ca/bylawsandcouncillibrary/BYL_Zoning_12000.pdf https://delta.civicweb.net/filepro/documents/39447?preview=39448
New Policy Priorities:
1. Complete a tree canopy cover study for Richmond.
- Will allow Richmond to establish tree canopy goals for increased tree coverage, and to monitor canopy change over time.
- Bylaw changes cannot wait for completion of a tree canopy study - protection of existing inventory is now a paramount strategy
2. Adopt Richmond’s Ecological Network Management Strategy report into policy.
- Embed a biodiversity checklist (eg. Port Moody) into new development applications http://www.portmoody.ca/modules/showdocument.aspx?documentid=839 http://stewardshipcentrebc.ca/case-studies/naturescape-british-columbia/
1. Increase City Tree Protection staff to assist with enforcement.
- The existing 3 staff members are not an adequate level to keep pace with development
What Can You Do?
1). Take Pictures! Before and After. To show the impact of new building MASSING and tree loss, on your streetscape and in your backyard and send to WRAPd.
2). Make a formal complaint. Ask for a response in writing. Send a copy to WRAPd to double record your concerns.
3). Join! - Neighbourhood Tree Watch. Talk to friends in other neighbourhoods about what to look out for.
4). Write to the Local Newspapers - and send a copy to WRAPd (info@WRAPd.org) to 'double record' your opinions.
- Richmond News
- Link: http://www.richmond-news.com/opinion/send-us-a-letter
- Richmond Review
- Link: http://www.richmondreview.com/contact_us/
- Vancouver Sun
- Link: https://www.thevancouversuncontests.com/machform/view.php?id=553
- The Province
- Link: http://www.theprovince.com/about-the-province/contactus.html
WRAPd Steering Committee
- Lee Bennett
- Joel Berman
- Neil Cumming
- Graham Johnsen
- Lynda ter Borg
- Martin Woolford
Email contact: info@WRAPd.org
Committed to Positive development