Mayor Malcolm Brodie 2013 Annual AddressAnnual Address
By Mayor Malcolm Brodie
Theme: Richmond: Building Our Future
January 21, 2014
These are remarkable days in Richmond’s history. With our current population in excess of 200,000 and expected to grow by 40% in less than 30 years, we have laid the foundation for future growth. This increase, along with substantial job growth ensures a bright future and a robust residential and economic base.
2013 was highlighted when City Council unanimously voted to confer the honour of Freedom of the City on our former-Mayor, Greg Halsey-Brandt. Greg provided extraordinary service to Richmond for decades – as Mayor, Councillor and Member of the Legislative Assembly, in addition to assuming numerous volunteer positions. Recognized by Statute in the Community Charter, this honour is the highest award that a City can bestow and previously has been conferred only five times in Richmond’s history.
Since we co-hosted the Olympic Winter Games in 2010, Richmond has witnessed more than $2.7 billion in new building permits issued within the City. Billions more dollars of residential and commercial developments are in the planning phase. This is in addition to the significant public infrastructure to be built within the coming decade.
Of course, when we examine the overall status of any city, the analysis would be incomplete if the sole benchmark is the number of building cranes dominating the skyline. Richmond has so many important features including:
- We are home to an international airport, deep-sea port facilities and a world-class rapid transit system;
- Our cultural diversity is widely celebrated. Residents, employers and visitors who come from all over the world quickly feel at home; and
- We have protected much of our beautiful island environment. Nearly half of our total area remains as open space, including farmland, parks and other natural areas. City Council is careful to avoid encroachment by urban development into these areas.
- Managing growth to achieve our community’s objectives. As new residents and businesses settle in the City, we must fulfill their needs for facilities and services; and
- Making Richmond a sustainable community where the economic, social and environmental needs of the City are met today and in the future.
Richmond City Council has set a series of 13 Term Goals that embody our civic vision and priorities. These goals also become benchmarks to measure progress. With the commitment to achieve specified targets, we will maintain Richmond’s international reputation for liveability.
1. Community Safety: To ensure Richmond remains a safe and desirable community to live, work and play in, through the delivery of effective public safety services that are targeted to the City’s specific needs and priorities.
Richmond has achieved real success in providing for a safe community as the result of the hard work of our safety providers.
Completion of our Community Safety Infrastructure Program remains a top priority. Our first responders must have the operational base from which they protect our community at all times. Over the past decade, Richmond built three new firehalls and completed major upgrades on a fourth. Our City and Province recently finalized an innovative agreement to house in the West Cambie area the Province’s first combined firehall and ambulance station in an urban centre. Important savings in facility costs as well as efficiencies in emergency response and training are among the benefits to be derived from co-housing these services.
The last major component in the firehall program will be the replacement of the main headquarters situate at Gilbert and Granville. Construction was approved last year as part of the Major Facilities Capital Plan.
With the RCMP now headquartered in the Ironwood area south of Steveston Highway, a Community Police Station offers a number of crime prevention programs for the City Centre. The Station marked its first anniversary in September. With much of the projected population growth in the surrounding area, a strong police presence is important.
Preserving our safety through programs such as community policing, fire prevention and emergency preparedness remains a major focus for City Council. For instance:
- The RCMP Youth Section worked with community partners to host summer youth camps at local community centres for approximately 100 children aged 8-12. The Detachment has also become involved in School Sports and continued their longstanding leadership in the D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) Program. All initiatives strengthen ties with elementary school-aged Richmond youth;
- Richmond Fire-Rescue partnered with the Minoru Seniors Society, Richmond Seniors Services and Vancouver Coastal Health to provide and install smoke alarms free of charge for many older Richmond residents with limited mobility; and
- Emergency Programs and Richmond Fire-Rescue implemented free educational sessions at community centres to teach personal emergency preparedness as well as fire safety and prevention tips.
Last September, City Council adopted a comprehensive Social Development Strategy to identify civic social development priorities for the next decade. Among the first in the Province, the Strategy outlines three primary goals:
- enhance social equity and inclusion;
- engage citizens; and
- build on social assets and community capacity.
Specific initiatives will then be based on nine strategic directions:
- Expand housing choices;
- Enhance community accessibility;
- Address the needs of an aging population;
- Help Richmond’s children, youth and families to thrive;
- Build on Richmond’s cultural diversity;
- Support community engagement and volunteerism;
- Strengthen Richmond’s social infrastructure;
- Provide high quality recreation, arts, cultural and wellness opportunities; and
- Facilitate strong and safe neighbourhoods.
Although the Strategy’s implementation details are yet to be announced, the City has already made substantial advances in many areas of social needs.
Because our community needs affordable, licensed childcare for families with young children, City Council plans to dramatically increase the current number of such spaces operated by the City. New childcare spaces are often added when a major development is approved. Last year, a childcare facility was opened in West Cambie. Additional childcare facilities are now under development in Hamilton and as part of The Gardens development on the Fantasy Gardens site. Three other major developments within the City Centre that have received rezoning approval will incorporate childcare facilities. When complete, these new facilities will additionally provide more than 200 childcare spaces for Richmond families, with an emphasis on infants and toddlers, where demand is particularly high.
Another key concern for our community is housing affordability for everyone, regardless of factors such as income or age. During the current Council term, over 500 units of affordable housing have been added or approved for development under our Affordable Housing Strategy.
As an example, ground was broken on the new Kiwanis Towers project on Minoru across from Richmond Centre. With a civic contribution potentially over $20 million, older adults will soon have access to 296 new affordable rental apartments within two towers in the City Centre. Richmond, BC Housing, Kiwanis and Polygon worked together on this $60 million project which will more than double the number of affordable units originally situate on the Kiwanis Court site.
In December, City Council committed $19.8 million toward an innovative project whereby a 14-storey tower will be built on City-owned property east of City Hall on Granville Avenue. In addition to significant community service space, this project will include 129 affordable housing dwelling units for families, seniors and vulnerable individuals. The City is capitalizing on the input from five not-for-profit community groups, BC Housing and the private sector to make this project a reality.
Throughout Richmond’s history, the efforts of volunteers, including individuals and organizations have been very important. Significant support has been shown by a broad range of community organizations in terms of recruitment, training, retention and recognition of volunteers. Volunteer hours recorded by community groups included in the City’s volunteer management data base increased by more than by 35% in the past year, as more than 50,000 volunteer hours were recorded. Over 7,300 active volunteers are now registered in that database. This is only a small measure of the impact of immense volunteer contributions in Richmond.
At the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) Conference last June, Rick Hansen highlighted the collaboration between the City and his Foundation with the launch of planat. This innovative, interactive digital media tool is used to rate the accessibility of buildings and open spaces. The Richmond Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Richmond have also joined the City in promoting planat and Richmond as a leader in accessibility.
At the recent Remembrance Day ceremonies honouring our community’s military veterans, Richmond produced a simulcast of the ceremonies for viewing in City Council Chambers. This afforded attendees the opportunity to view the ceremonies in a comfortable, indoor environment. A post-ceremony reception was also hosted inside City Hall for hundreds of attendees.
3. Economic Development: To enhance the City’s economic well being and financial sustainability through the development and implementation of strategies and initiatives that lead to long-term business retention, expansion and attraction by clearly defining the businesses and industries we want to attract and retain; placing a stronger focus on tourism and Asia Pacific Gateway business development opportunities; and incorporate a broad business community engagement model.
Richmond’s success in creating a positive economic development climate was recognized for the second consecutive year by fDi (Foreign Direct Investment) Magazine. Among over 400 North American cities rated, Richmond was ranked as a Top 10 Small City of the Future (3rd), as well as a Top 10 Small City in the Business Friendliness and Foreign Direct Investment Strategy categories.
The City’s Economic Development Strategy focuses on increasing commercial and industrial development activity as a catalyst to generate jobs for residents of the region. We want to attract new business while we retain the existing. A Strategy update focusing on economic resiliency as well as our competitive advantage is being reviewed by stakeholders prior to adoption. The new version incorporates our new Business Retention and Expansion Program which was launched to target strategic Richmond business interests. It also emphasizes a key recommendation to build on Richmond’s economic advantage as a gateway to the Asia-Pacific.
To support the business sector with a single-point of information and service, www.richmondinbusiness.ca was successfully launched. In addition, online business license renewal has been introduced as the City attempts to generally make more services digitally available, thus improving efficiency and convenience. With the active support of our Chamber of Commerce, Richmond then joined five neighbouring cities with the Inter-Municipal Mobile Business License initiative. This allows tradespeople to operate in neighbouring cities under one license, rather than having to obtain a license in each city.
Richmond continues to enjoy strong growth with significant new industrial development. In particular, a number of major projects are underway which promise to create thousands of new jobs. These include:
1. At the Vancouver International Airport:
- Canada Post’s new processing facility involving 1,200 jobs on Sea Island is set for full operation this year; and
- Construction is now underway on a new 340,000 square foot luxury outlet mall on Sea Island adjacent to the Canada Line. This should create at least 1,000 jobs.
2. At Port Metro Vancouver’s Richmond properties:
- Phase 3 of the Hopewell Distribution Centre at Port Metro Vancouver’s Richmond Properties, including 278,000 square feet of industrial space, is complete. Phase 4 involving another 320,000 square feet of industrial space is now under construction.
- A Euro-Asia transload facility with 300,000 square feet of industrial space will mirror a similar-sized facility already built. This should consolidate Euro-Asia's Lower Mainland operations.
3. The Ecowaste Industrial Park which projects two million square feet of industrial space and 4,800 jobs is to be developed in phases over 10 years.
4. The SmartCentres/Walmart retail development in the West Cambie area promises to create 1,000 new jobs.
To take advantage of the momentum generated by the 2010 Winter Olympic Games, Richmond plans to focus on building tourism. Under the Hotel Tax Agreement signed in 2012, the City now works closely with Tourism Richmond and the hotel sector to establish a significant tourism destination.
Asian visitors are the biggest contributors to growth in the number of international tourists coming to BC. Richmond works with Tourism Richmond to position our City as the ideal home away from home for this market. Offering a wide array of cultural amenities, convenient transportation access and the shortest flying times to North America from most major Asian cities, Richmond is poised to realize an increase in the important tourism market.
Another important element in increasing tourism is the City’s Sport Hosting Program which helped secure more than 30 sports events in 2013. To date, 15 elite-level events have already been scheduled for 2014-2016. The Sport Hosting Program has annually generated more than 20,000 hotel room nights for Richmond plus millions of dollars in economic spinoffs.
Tourism Richmond and the private sector will further support tourism when the Olympic Experience project opens later this year at the Richmond Olympic Oval. Being the first North American member of the Olympic Museum network, the venue will highlight local sports history, the region’s participation in 2010 Winter Games and the overall Olympic story.
2013 was another record year for commercial filming. For instance, May was a record-breaking month with more than 18 filming days. Widely-popular and critically-acclaimed series such as Once Upon a Time and Bates Motel continue to shoot in Steveston. Our largest-ever major movie shoot, the latest Godzilla film, involved more than 12 days filming in the City.
4. Facility Development: To ensure provision of quality public facilities and amenities in Richmond that keep pace with the rate of growth, through implementation of an updated comprehensive Facility Development Plan that includes an analysis of existing facilities, the identification of required new facilities, and the recommended timing, financial strategies and public process for implementing the plan.
As Richmond ages, grows and changes, City Council must make significant investments to renew and expand our civic infrastructure.
As part of a comprehensive $123 million major capital program, plans are underway for replacement of the aging and inadequate Minoru Aquatic Centre as well as Minoru Older Adults Centre. Because these will be built near the current site of the Pavilion in Minoru Park, we will minimize disruption of service for current facility users. An extensive public consultation program should provide community input into the best programs and amenities for inclusion in the new facilities. The capital program also contemplates completion of the new City Centre Community Centre and the replacement of the No.1 Fire Hall. By borrowing and using reserves to finance these projects, we expect to avoid negative property tax implications.
Though we must focus on our community’s future, City Council will not forget Richmond’s heritage. Recently we have worked on restoring a number of historic buildings. These help us celebrate our past, while creating new opportunities for community events and programs. They include:
- Now home to Richmond’s historic Interurban Tram, the new Tram Barn opened last September. It is a very popular attraction for both tourists and programming;
- A comprehensive restoration of Britannia Shipyard National Historic Site’s Seine Loft allows use for community events and programming;
- The historic Branscombe House restoration, primarily funded and co-ordinated by local donors, is expected to soon be completed, thus becoming a new civic gathering space along the popular Railway Greenway; and
- Restoration work continues on the Japanese Benevolent Fisherman’s Society building next to the Steveston Museum.
5. Financial Management: To develop and implement effective and innovative financial policies and strategies that help the City to successfully manage the challenges of tough economic times, while taking advantage of financial opportunities, and balance current and long term financial needs.
Richmond’s Long Term Financial Management Strategy lets taxpayers know in advance what financial increases to expect. Developed more than a decade ago, this Strategy also ensures that the City maintains the full financial capability to meet current and emerging needs, supports civic services at a high level, limits property tax increases and provides good value to our taxpayers.
To accommodate for park and other community needs, Richmond City Council has long understood the merits of making investments in land. In the past three years, the City has invested more than $140 million in land, including:
- the purchase of the Garden City Lands;
- significant acquisitions for City Centre parkland along the Middle Arm; and
- preservation of important environmental reserves along both our western foreshore and the northeast bog.
Richmond again won awards from the Government Financial Officers Association of North America for our 2011 Annual Report, marking a decade of excellence in financial reporting. Richmond received the Canadian Award for Financial Reporting for the 10th consecutive year. The City also received the Association’s Award for Outstanding Achievement in Popular Annual Financial Reporting for the 3rd year in a row.
6. Intergovernmental Relations: To strengthen relationships with other levels of government and government agencies to ensure City needs and priorities are well represented, understood and proactively advanced.
To achieve City objectives, we must collaborate with many partners, including other levels of government and agencies such as Port Metro Vancouver and the Vancouver International Airport Authority. Government partners provide regulatory and other support in addition to some funding for a wide variety of programs and projects.
Port Metro Vancouver’s Richmond Properties represent a significant economic development opportunity although growth had been constrained by transportation connections. Having previously supported construction of the new Highway 91 Interchange, Richmond continues to work with the Port and Federal government to widen and improve the Nelson Road/Westminster Highway area. This also promotes road safety for area residents and farmers.
The City, Port and other government partners also collaborate to increase dredging of the Steveston Channel and other areas in the Fraser River Estuary. This will facilitate easier movement of commercial, fishing and recreational vessels.
As we move forward, we will encourage our government partners to work even more closely with the City in addressing areas of mutual concern such as climate change, rising sea levels, housing affordability, police services and environmental protection, among many others.
7. Managing Growth and Development: To ensure effective growth management for the City, including the adequate provision of facility, service and amenity requirements associated with growth.
In 2013, a new Official Community Plan: Moving Toward a Sustainable Community was approved following extensive consultation. Providing for city planning to 2041, the new Plan continues to direct most growth into the City Centre with more limited growth around some of the neighbourhood shopping centres and along certain arterial roads. City Council continues to ensure the City has adequate facilities, programs and strategies in place to meet the needs of current and new residents.
The Parks and Open Space Strategy was recently completed as a 10-year plan to address the implications of growth and change to the system. It will guide future planning and community engagement, in addition to parks and open space resource management. An example of such planning is reflected in the impending development of a major new park on the former Fantasy Gardens site.
The planning process for the Garden City Lands is well underway. This is a rare opportunity to plan the future of such a large parcel in the midst of the City Centre. A final plan based on community-supported land use concepts will be considered by the public, City Council and the Agricultural Land Commission. As we did with Terra Nova Rural Park and others, plan implementation will be carefully undertaken over many years with the benefit of additional environmental research.
8. Sustainability: To demonstrate leadership in sustainability through continued implementation of the City’s Sustainability Framework.
The quality of Richmond’s long-term future will be heavily influenced by our success in adopting sustainable practices. Richmond, having long been a leader in areas such as energy conservation, adopted an extensive Sustainability Framework during this term.
City Council has set significant targets for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions to help address climate change. To reduce such emissions, a new Community Energy and Emission Plan has now been developed which defines those actions that the City and our community can take over the next 25 years.
The new Alexandra District Energy Utility (ADEU) has successfully completed its first full year of operation. Working with the private sector, over 600 units are now connected to the system leading to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by more than 330 tonnes to date. Capital and operating costs will eventually be recovered through user fees, making it financially self-sustaining. At full capacity, it is estimated that the ADEU will lead to annual GHG reduction up to 6,000 tonnes. Based on this success, the City plans to establish such district energy utilities elsewhere to support City Centre redevelopment.
The City’s development of the Alexandra District Energy Utility won two awards for innovation in both engineering and public works. Canadian Consulting Engineer magazine and the Association of Consulting Engineering Companies - Canada bestowed the ADEU with the Award of Excellence. This award is the most prestigious recognition in Canadian engineering and is given to projects that exhibit a high quality of engineering, imagination and innovation. The ADEU was also named Project of the Year by the Public Works Association of BC. This award is given to a municipality that constructs a major and complex public works or utilities project that meets specific criteria including innovative design with project benefits for the community and the environment.
Recent corporate energy retrofit projects include:
- integration of a solar thermal air wall at South Arm Community Centre;
- installation of a sanitary sewer heat recovery unit at the Gateway Theatre; and
- upgrading of lighting and heating efficiency upgrades at various civic facilities.
Annually, these projects and other energy-related corporate initiatives should save at least 1.8 GWh (gigawatt hours) of electrical energy – this represents a reduction of approximately $100,000 in operational costs and approximately 190 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions.
The Green Fleet Action Plan adopted late last year underscores how Richmond will realize over 20% in GHG emission reductions from its fleet vehicles over the coming decades. Supported by grants, we installed at civic facilities a number of charging stations for electric vehicles.
Following the successful voluntary program, the City introduced a new mandatory water metering program for the single-family residences remaining without meters. The existing meters have provided significant savings for users, while helping to reduce overall water consumption.
While working toward the ultimate goal of Zero Waste, the City and Metro Vancouver Region are each committed to the diversion of 70% of our solid waste from disposal facilities by 2015. To reach this target, it is important to effectively remove organics in the form of food waste and yard trimmings from the waste stream. Such organics form a huge proportion of our waste and will be prohibited from regional waste facilities in 2015.
Last June, an important component was added to deal with our volume of waste when Richmond introduced a new Green Cart and Large Item Pickup Programs for single-family homes and 11,000 townhomes. This improved convenience for residents resulted in an increase in organics recycling by more than 4,000 tonnes in 2013. A pilot program will extend this Program to 5,000 additional multifamily residences as the next step in making this service available to all. The City also continues to study options to create viable organics recycling alternatives for businesses.
To further reduce our environmental impact, the City continues to invest in infrastructure designed to ultimately reduce private vehicle trips and encourage more transit travel, walking and cycling. Highlights include:
- designation of on-street parking spaces for car-share vehicles at each of Richmond’s Canada Line stations;
- continued expansion of the cycling network; and
- many new pedestrian signal and cycling improvements along with pedestrian pathways.
9. Arts and Culture: Continue to support the development of a thriving resilient and diverse cultural sector and related initiatives in creating a vibrant healthy and sustainable City.
The City’s recently-updated Arts Strategy encourages expansion of the arts and cultural opportunities for the benefit of our residents. Richmond has an expanding array of cultural events, many of which set new attendance records in 2013, including:
- Doors Open – this annual two-day event enabled over 25,000 residents of the region to explore arts, culture and heritage venues throughout the City, including places of worship, artists’ studios, museums and national historic sites;
- The Richmond Children’s Festival expanded to attract 5,000 participants on February’s new Family Day holiday. Attendance on this day matched that of the festival’s week-long sold-out offering of performances and workshops for local school classes;
- The 10th annual Richmond Maritime Festival attracted 40,000 visitors to the Britannia Heritage Shipyard. Attendees enjoyed a wide range of arts and entertainment as well as boat-viewing to celebrate Steveston’s rich maritime history. During the Festival, a new Guinness World Record was set when 180 participants sang in sequence the nursery rhyme Row, Row, Row Your Boat;
- In August, supported by City funding, the heavily-subscribed outdoor theatre production of Salmon Row returned to the Britannia Shipyard. This production enabled the audience to relive the storied history of the Steveston working waterfront set throughout the Shipyard site; and
- Primarily hosted at our Cultural Centre, Your Kontinent: Richmond International Film and Media Arts Festival expanded to 9 days. 37 films and 11 events were enjoyed by over 3,500 attendees and supported by 85 dedicated volunteers.
10. Community Wellness: Continue to collaborate with community organizations and agencies to optimize resources in the implementation of the City’s adopted Wellness Strategy.
Richmond has been called “Canada’s Healthiest City”. We are a national leader for many health indicators, particularly longevity as our residents live the longest on average of residents anywhere in Canada. City Council supports wellness by providing a wide variety of programs designed to encourage barrier-free activity and recreational amenities.
A notable success last year was the development of the new Railway Greenway. Even before completion, the new north-south trailway across Lulu Island became popular with walkers, joggers and cyclists. Stretching from the Middle Arm Dike to the Steveston waterfront, the Greenway provides safe recreational routes for our residents.
There are many other projects underway, including:
- a new bike terrain park is being constructed in Garden City Park to replace the former site in South Richmond; and
- a new Play Environment soon to be added in Terra Nova Rural Park.
The inaugural Move for Health Festival at Minoru Park was a week-long celebration of health and wellness-related activities. Involving more than 30 community partners, residents discovered a range of sport, fitness and arts activities. They also enjoyed live entertainment and celebrated the benefits of active living.
The Richmond Olympic Oval, marking its fifth anniversary in December, through its Community Legacy Program provides sport, health and fitness activities, skill development pathways and role-model leadership for people of all ages and skill levels. The Oval has hosted dozens of international-caliber sports events and received over three million visitors along with 23,000 sport and fitness program registrations. It is currently home to over 4,000 long-term members, the vast majority being Richmond residents. The Oval has also served as the training site for many elite athletes.
11. Municipal Infrastructure Improvement: Continue to invest in the City’s infrastructure networks and systems in a manner that meets community needs and responds to the issues of aging and components of the system, growth related capacity issues and the requirements due to changing climate and environment impacts.
Roads, water, sewer, dikes, ditches and drainage – these are a few of the basic services upon which our residents and businesses rely. City staff meet a daily challenge to ensure our existing civic infrastructure is well-maintained. Plans are also made for its eventual replacement, renewal and expansion.
As an island community built on a floodplain, our diking and drainage system is tested daily. With the long-term threat of rising sea levels, we must bolster our efforts to upgrade this civic infrastructure. Phase 1 of our Dike Master Plan, which includes Steveston and the West Dike, was endorsed last year. Implementation of this innovative long-term Plan should also provide other benefits, such as reducing the need for constant dredging of the Steveston Channel.
Annually, the City completes $9 million in drainage and pump station upgrades. The No.1 and Williams Road Drainage Pump Stations were recently replaced with Stations having a higher pumping capacity and designed to accommodate future sea level change.
In transportation, a major redesign is underway along River Road east of the Dinsmore Bridge. Once complete in the near future, the new alignment will accommodate a new intersection at River Road and Gilbert south of the Bridge. Hollybridge Way east of the Oval will be closed to through traffic. The new alignment will improve traffic flow and encourage major new park development envisioned for the Middle Arm.
12. Waterfront Enhancement: Place greater emphasis on protecting and enhancing the City’s waterfront while successfully integrating a balance between urban development, public access and events, and a healthy river environment.
Sometimes ignored or inaccessible to the public until relatively recently, our Island City enjoys an unparalleled resource in its waterfront. City Council will ensure that any bordering development protects the sensitive environment and that the waterfront remains accessible to our residents.
Waterfront activity remains popular as evidenced by the successful Ships to Shore, Maritime Festival and Steveston Dragon Boat Festival. Britannia Heritage Shipyard’s newly-restored Seine Net Loft has created a large versatile indoor destination amenity space.
To augment the purchases of the environmentally-sensitive Terra Nova Rural Park as well as the Grauer Lands outside of the West Dike, we look forward to opening the Oval East Waterfront Linear Park to complement a similar park on the western side of the Oval. Elsewhere, residents can look forward to a new waterfront park near the pier at the south end of No.2 Road as approved by City Council as part of a residential redevelopment plan.
13. A Well Informed Public: Ensure a well informed public regarding Council priorities, activities and achievements.
Because effective communication is always very important, the City is now taking advantage of social media to extend public engagement to new audiences. This supplements the City’s website which is being expanded and made more user-friendly. In the past year, new additions to the City’s website include introduction of various civic application forms, an enhanced Crime Activity map and links to the City’s traffic intersection cameras.
City Council recently approved extension of the popular Let’s Talk Richmond online discussion tool. This forum has allowed thousands of residents to conveniently participate in various public consultations on subjects ranging from the Official Community Plan to plans for the Garden City Lands. Richmond also established its own YouTube channel as it provides broad exposure for City-produced videos. More than 80 videos are now featured.
The City’s Facebook page continues to grow in popularity. For instance, the site was successfully used to solicit public input on our annual Street Banner Competition. Over 11,000 online responses were received as part of the process to select new street banners for this year.
The City first used Twitter and Facebook to effectively communicate about emergencies and hazards. The City has built on these media to generally inform on matters of civic interest.
Richmond Public Library launched its latest digital service – eVideo@yourlibrary. Library cardholders now have free access to over 5,000 online movies and television shows for adults and children. With City funding matched by a grant from the Federal Government, all four branches of the Library and some community facilities are equipped with free WiFi capability for the public.
City Council has a very full agenda as we move forward towards a strong future. Examination of Council’s Term Goals demonstrates the complexity and breadth of our challenge. Richmond strives to be a desirable place for its residents to live. Many Richmondites were born in other countries throughout the world. People and businesses want a safe city built on a solid financial foundation as well as a place of opportunity. Richmond enjoys the benefits resulting from our great diversity in language, religion and culture. Enhancement of our heritage and the environment are emphasized as we heighten our quality of life, notwithstanding growth.
Richmond City Council works with countless community and government partners. Our energized volunteers add so much to our everyday experiences – we shall always be grateful to the thousands of unsung heroes who generously give their time and resources for the greater benefit of all.
I want to especially thank our hardworking City staff who are dedicated to the well-being of Richmond and give constant support to members of City Council. Their work, although crucial to our quality of life, all-too-often goes unnoticed.
As we enter 2014, we eagerly anticipate the challenges and opportunities which we expect to encounter. This will be another important and active year in Richmond’s vibrant history.