No muncipality is converting more quickly from strip suburban to transit-oriented urban than Richmond – particularly that part of No. 3 Road adjacent to the Canada Line. (For previous posts on the “AOL Triangle,” start here.)
With an expected population equivalent to Vancouver’s Downtown Peninsula within walking distance of five rapid-transit stations (left), Richmond’s core will have the density. As importantly, it will have the urban character and amenities. Though constrained by the height limits because of flight paths to the airport (and on a flood plain, surrounded by dikes), the irresistible effect of YVR has trumped seismic concerns that previously kept this area from being designated a regional town centre.
Also given Richmond’s appeal to Asian immigrants, the question was not whether dramatic growth would occur but how it would be shaped.
You can already get a good feel of the scale and character of this new city centre in blocks near Aberdeen Mall:
In the Alderbridge & Westminster Highway area north of City Hall:
And of course, in the area around the Olympic Oval, where River Green has already been well promoted. But Brian Jackson, Richmond’s Director of Development, says this is just the beginning:
The area that you’re speaking of (the AOL Triangle) is actually part of three “villages” as set out in our new City Centre Area Plan (CCAP) adopted September 14, 2009.
Two of the three villages are centred on two transit stations (Aberdeen and Lansdowne); and the other is centred on the Oval. … we are looking for the intensification and urbanization of this area with mixed use, including residential, redevelopment with the highest densities focused at the stations or closest to the oval.
We have several major development applications going through now that will help to realize that vision. Amongst the ones we have in are Wing Leung’s Quintet development at Number 3 Road and Firbridge (rendering below) that includes a new community centre of 33,000 sq. ft. and university (for Trinity Western) and ASPAC’s development, both east and west of the Oval that will accommodate over 2,500 residential units, a commercial village core east of the Oval, together with new parks and waterfront trail. In addition, we have two hotel applications near the Lansdowne Station, another high rise residential project from Onni, as well as several other developers poised to make other applications to intensify this area.
So, from a policy perspective, we’ve got everything in place for developers to move forward, when market conditions are right, to implement the vision set out in the plan.
Additionally, Richmond has also tried to address the loss of jobs-rich industrial lands that will be redeveloped to the west of No. 3 Road. Says Brian:
The CCAP addresses this issue by creating “industrial reserves” in other parts of the City Centre which used to be single family neighbourhoods that cannot be residential anymore because of the flight path/noise issues. In addition, as part of the OCP review, now underway, the policy section is doing an industrial analysis for all of Richmond to examine that very issue.