Mayor’s Address a message of optimism
24 February 2021
The City of Richmond is well positioned to face the coming year with optimism as it emerges from the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic on a foundation of economic growth and stability.
In his annual address to local business leaders, Mayor Malcolm Brodie described the City’s strategy to deal with COVID-19 a “success” given the low case numbers and the firm commitment to public safety.
“Though many challenges remain, we hope the worst of the pandemic-driven disruption is in the past,” Mayor Brodie said during his annual Richmond Chamber of Commerce address, presented online this year in keeping with COVID-19 protocols. “Despite the pressures and uncertainties of the pandemic, the construction sector in Richmond enjoyed a busy year with over one billion dollars in construction approvals and building permits.”
Applications for single-family homes actually increased over the previous year, he said, with around 1,600 dwellings given the green light. That included 150 affordable housing and 150 market rental units to support those residents who face housing challenges.
As COVID-19 took hold in early-2020, Mayor Brodie said public safety and economic security became more concerning than ever and the City took unprecedented steps to change the way it worked to continue to provide essential services and keep the community safe.
A Financial Resiliency Plan was implemented to reduce the pressure facing residents and businesses including a halt on discretionary spending, changes to utility and property tax payment deadlines, and a reduction of over two per cent in the expected 2020 tax rate.
It supported the development of an online Business Support Centre as an important one-stop resource for accurate and timely information for local business, and the hard-hit restaurant and hospitality sector benefitted from the City’s online Expedited Temporary Outdoor Patio Program where restaurants, cafes and pubs could apply to expand outdoor seating onto private property, parking lots and even space on City sidewalks.
While taking steps to keep the local economy moving was crucial for future recovery, so was the need to keep citizens safe and healthy along with maintaining a steady focus and vision during the period of uncertainty.
“Preserving the health of our community is so important during a pandemic,” Mayor Brodie said. “Richmond City Council was among the first in BC to mandate the wearing of masks in all City-operated buildings. Other centres and government soon followed and the wearing of masks is bound to be a fact of life for some time to come.”
Mayor Brodie pointed to the unique Community Ambassador program – where select City staff worked across the community to educate and inform people of the need to adhere to public health orders – as well as the rapid transition to online programs, activities and events as ways the City was able to quickly adapt to the pandemic realities.
The year marked the opening of the state-of-the-art Minoru Centre for Active Living, the construction of over 12 kilometres of watermains, sanitary and storm sewers, along with the completion of the South Dike Upgrade Project between Gilbert Road and No.3 Road which raised the dike almost two metres to protect against climate change-induced rises in sea level.
Throughout the year, community safety remained a priority. “Richmond’s rate of crime remains among the lowest in Metro Vancouver thanks to a strong and supported community safety program,” Mayor Brodie said. “There were notable reductions in almost all crime categories in 2020, including a 35 per cent decrease in robberies, and a 21 per cent decrease in residential break and enters. The property crime rate declined by 12 per cent and mental health-related incidents decreased 17 per cent.”
Looking forward, the Mayor identified several areas he hopes can be addressed in the coming year such as clarity on the final building solution for the Highway 99 / George Massey Tunnel project. “The City has always maintained the position that an eight-lane immersed tube tunnel is the most cost-effective, efficient and environmentally-friendly replacement option,” he told attendees.
Mayor Brodie also identified appropriate implementation of Richmond’s single-use plastics bylaw as well as a decision from government on funding for the long-overdue Richmond Hospital replacement project.
“Few will soon forget the year 2020,” Mayor Brodie said. “Fortunately, the City of Richmond remains well-positioned thanks to the strong leadership of City Council, sound management by our staff, great volunteers, vibrant businesses and caring residents.
A full copy and video of the Mayor’s 2021 Annual Address is online at: www.richmond.ca/cityhall/council/about/messages/annualaddress2021