Stephen Rees's blog

Thoughts about the relationships between transport and the urban area it serves

Who is Mr Olympic Oval?

with 4 comments

There is a piece is this weekend’s Georgia Straight by David Berner, which I wish I could post a link to. But it’s not on their web site. So I guess you may have to pick up a hard copy, like I do, to read the whole thing.

UPDATE January 28, 2007 The original article has now been posted here.

It is not often that I find myself in agreement with Bob Ransford but he says “Richmond is drifting. The corporate vision … was crafted by the bureaucratic and political elites in City Hall without any public buy-in.”

Berner uses the example of the Oval to illustrate the point. Despite what the City claims, he shows that it is neither on time or on budget. Peter Webster, a developer and a member of the Oval Steering Advisory Committee says : “We have no business plan. We have no marketing plan. We have no financial plan.”

The Richmond Oval under construction December 23, 2007

The answer to the question posed in the headline appears to be George Duncan – the City Manager. Ransford again “George Duncan has the world’s biggest Lego set, and unsuspecting taxpayers have given it to him”. Now the article makes it clear that being Mr Oval is a full time job in itself but George has also got to deal with the naughty firemen, the Watermania mess and other issues.

Oh and there’s also this thing

Richmond is going to triple its population from its current 41,000 to 120,000 in the city centre. This is as big of a makeover as you can get, and the city wants you to take part. You can pop by city hall or check out the plans and drawings at

Gloria Chang in the Richmond Review

She also quotes Councillor Harold Steves

“Previously, when we’ve come up with a community plan, we have great ideals and lofty visions, but the implementation of the plans—generally what happens is that when the developers come in and make a case that the economy is down or for some reason, they’ve paid more for the land than they should,” says Steves.

“Then the council of the day allows them to build without providing the amenities that were envisioned. It’s happened over and over again in Richmond over the last 30 years.”

The key issue is the use developer contributions of “community amenities” to make up for the reduction in required open space – not the 7.6 acres per thousand people that applies in the rest of the city. And even there, the School Board notes that the City seems to assume that the Board will provide the parks – which ain’t necessarily so

If the city’s current plans aren’t altered, Richmond’s downtown core could slowly devolve into a concrete jungle because of the city’s over reliance on the school district to provide green space.

“The public just needs to know that the city is using in their calculations land that is owned by the school district,” said Linda McPhail, chair of the Richmond school board chair.

That’s the front page story.

At least a lot of the 120,000 will be in high rises, so presumably most will be able to survive the coming flood.

Written by Stephen Rees

November 11, 2006 at 1:12 pm

Posted in Urban Planning

4 Responses

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  1. Call me Mr. Cynical, but it why is it that the people who loose their jobs when the gov’t is “Reducing the civil service” are the ones working for the environment, and not the ones responsible for the latest prestige project. Funny that…


    November 13, 2006 at 12:04 am

  2. OK, Mr Cynical. Maybe its because government in general (at least in English speaking countries) has moved distinctly rightwards in the last twenty years, and is now much less concerned with protecting the environment – or the public interest – as in promoting the interests of Business (capital B).
    I was not targeted in the reduction of the BC civil service – but the link I provided to the Sierra Legal Defense Fund shows how the NDP switched quickly away from its initial concerns to getting re-elected by moving right. The posturing it had taken – Moe Sihota and Tom Gunton threatening tough emission regulations to the motor vehicle manufacturers and oil companies – suddenly switched to getting more aluminium smelters (“Three – count ’em – three!”).
    There is certainly much less interest now in objective measurement prior to making a decision. Cost Benefit Analysis was largely replaced by Environmental Assessment and now that process itself has been subverted (see the current Port Mann/Highway 1 proposals for example).

    Stephen Rees

    November 13, 2006 at 11:23 am

  3. Hi Stephen,

    Thanks so much for bringing attention to my piece in the Georgia Straight. The published version was somewaht mangled, and they didn’t print the accompanying “insert,” which tried to set all of this madmess in a larger context of incompetence.

    Please e-mail me and I will be happy to send you attachments of both pieces, which, by the way, please feel free to run on your excellent and thoughtful blog.



    David Michael Berner

    January 27, 2007 at 5:58 pm

  4. […] Back in November, I reported on an article published in the Georgia Straight about the Olympic Oval written by David Berner. He is now into blogging himself, but his archive only goes back to the […]

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