Malcolm Brodie makes 2014 ‘state of city’ address

Word cloud of Malcolm Brodie's 2014 annual address.

Word cloud of Malcolm Brodie’s 2014 annual address.

From the Richmond News – Richmond Mayor Malcolm Brodie delivered his annual address at a Chamber of Commerce luncheon Tuesday afternoon at a Richmond hotel.

Brodie commenced his speech, noting the city’s expected population growth of 40 per cent within three decades and that in his 13 years as mayor the city has evolved from a suburban community to a “distinct destination” – one that is desirable in which to live, work, play and visit.

Brodie listed and addressed 12 council goals, the first of which was community safety. He noted three new fire halls that had been constructed over the last decade as well as a new RCMP headquarters.

“Richmond has achieved real success in providing for a safe community,” said Brodie.

He said the city was committed to improving childcare.

“We have long-identified social needs and childcare is one of them,” said Brodie, adding that 200 new childcare spaces are coming to facilities under development.

Brodie said another highlight of this council’s achievements has been the development of 296 new affordable rental apartments for seniors at Kiwanis Towers near Richmond Centre mall Economic development was highlighted by the mayor as well.

A new Canada Post processing facility and luxury outlet mall to be built on Sea Island as well as two new Port Metro Vancouver facilities, the Ecowaste Industrial Park and a new Walmart were all examples of jobs coming into the city. He said tourism is gaining importance and he also thanked the city’s volunteers who compiled more than 50,000 hours throughout the community, according to city data.

Brodie stated that with Richmond’s liveability and jobs coming into the city fewer cars should be needed in the future, tying into Richmond’s goal of reducing carbon emissions as a whole with its Sustainability Framework and a new Community Energy and Emission Plan.

Those carbon emissions are leading to climate change and rising sea levels. Brodie noted the city must continue to maintain its utilities, especially the dikes to “keep us dry.”

Brodie opted to deliver his annual address at the chamber luncheon this year, citing poor attendance at City Hall in past years.

He noted up to $400 million will be needed to raise the city’s dikes in the decades to come – a significant burden that he nevertheless deems manageable with proper planning, which also includes upgrading pump stations. Phase 1 of the dike project starts in Steveston, Brodie said.

Other big ticket items addressed by Brodie included infrastructure improvements to facilities such Minoru Aquatic Centre as well as Minoru Older Adults Centre.

Spending over $120 million on new facilities will require sound financial management, another council goal, according to Brodie.

Those facilities should tie in to other goals such as improving arts and culture and community wellness, which are inevitably tied to Richmond’s parks and green spaces.

He noted the Branscombe House restoration project, Steveston’s interurban tram house and work at Britannia Shipyard as just a few examples of the city preserving its heritage and tying it into parks.

The new Railway Greenway was lauded as one of his personal favourite projects completed last year.

Brodie said Richmond will continue to improve access to the waterfront. He noted a new 40-acre park near the Dinsmore Bridge that will fit in nicely with the oval and west dike and eventually connect an expanding Downtown Richmond to the Fraser River.

Brodie said the planning stage of the Garden City Lands is well underway and that concepts are being considered by the public, city council and the Agricultural Land Commission.

He used a picture that superimposed Minoru Park on the lands to show the significant addition of park land that the city will achieve.

He quipped about a legal battle that took some time to eventually acquire the land.

“When we first talked to the federal government about acquiring the lands we had to convince them that they weren’t strategic. But they are,” said Brodie, getting a rise out of the crowd as they finished their $40 meals.

Brodie also said he was proud of an inter-municipal business licensing program that cuts out bureaucratic red tape for small-businesses.

He also commended his city’s communications staff, noting the Let’s Talk Richmond online discussion tool and a robust website.

In his speech Brodie did not re-raise his opposition to a planned jet fuel facility on the south arm of the Fraser River. He also made no mention of the multi-billion dollar George Massey Tunnel replacement project that is being green lighted by the provincial government.