General Purposes Committee Minutes - September 20, 2004

City of Richmond Meeting Minutes

General Purposes Committee



Monday, September 20th, 2004


Anderson Room
Richmond City Hall


Mayor Malcolm D. Brodie, Chair
Councillor Linda Barnes
Councillor Derek Dang
Councillor Evelina Halsey-Brandt
Councillor Sue Halsey-Brandt
Councillor Rob Howard
Councillor Kiichi Kumagai
Councillor Bill McNulty
Councillor Harold Steves

Call to Order:

The Chair called the meeting to order at 4:00 p.m., and advised that the matter of a Council representative to the Lower Mainland Treaty Advisory Committee, would be added to the agenda as an additional item.









It was moved and seconded



That the minutes of the meeting of the General Purposes Committee held on Tuesday, September 7th, 2004, be adopted as circulated.











(Report:  Sept. 14/04, File No.:  6520-02-01) (REDMS No. 1335614)



Mr. Bob Ransford, accompanied by Mr. Ron Schuss, representing the Richmond Heritage Railroad Society, and Mr. Terry Kearns, of URS, addressed Committee on the proposal to incorporate a streetcar system into the RAV project.  A copy of Mr. Ransford’s submission is attached as Schedule A and forms part of these minutes.



Mr. Kearns then gave a PowerPoint presentation to further explain the “Richmond Streetcar Feasibility Study”.  A copy of this presentation is on file in the City Clerk’s Office.



Chief Administrative Officer George Duncan spoke to the proposal, indicating that while staff had been supportive of the concept and felt that it was worthy of further review, he was concerned about (i) asking RAVCO for a change to the RAV project at this late date which he felt could jeopardize the entire proposal, and (ii) RAVCO’s reaction to the request. 



Discussion ensued among Committee members and Mr. Duncan on the impact of submitting the proposal to RAV with the request that the two bidding companies review the proposal as part of the BAFO process at this late stage in the process, when the deadline for the submission of the bids was September 27th, 2004. 



Also discussed was the cost of the RAV line as compared to the cost of implementing a streetcar system, and the difference in technologies between the Richmond and Vancouver systems.  A suggestion was made during the discussion, that a letter be sent to TransLink and the Greater Vancouver Transit Authority (GVTA) asking that the streetcar concept be considered in the event that the two bids were higher in cost than the approved budget.



Mr. Duncan then left the meeting, and the delegation returned to the table.



A lengthy discussion then ensued among Committee members and delegation on:




how the streetcar concept would compare to the RAV project




transfer penalties which would result because of the different modes of transportation which could be available




the cost of purchasing streetcars, and the cost of the streetcar system as it compared to the RAV proposal




the feasibility of reviving a streetcar system in Richmond




the pedestrian friendliness and accessibility features of the proposed streetcar system




the request of the Richmond Heritage Railroad Society that the City convince RAVCO to adopt the proposed streetcar concept




the feasibility of requesting TransLink and RAVCO to consider the proposal in the event that alternative options were required




whether the BAFO process could be legally changed to review the streetcar proposal




the impact of mixing streetcars with motor vehicle traffic




the construction process required for a streetcar system as compared to the invasiveness of the construction process for the RAV proposal




ridership figures and the need for a ridership analysis




the differences between the light rail transit system proposed by RAV and the streetcar concept




the impact of the vibrations resulting from the streetcars running along the roadway on older buildings




whether the travel time for streetcars would be slower or faster as compared to the RAV proposal.



At the conclusion of the discussion, the Chair thanked the delegation for their presentation.



Mr. Dana Westermark came forward and spoke further on the proposal.  He indicated that Steveston residents and business owners were very excited about the streetcar proposal as it would provide an opportunity to achieve transit to Steveston.  He suggested that the streetcar system should link Steveston with the Richmond Centre, Lansdowne and Aberdeen Shopping Centres.



In response to questions, Mr. Westermark advised that implementation of a streetcar system Granville Avenue only rather than to Steveston would still be an improvement over the RAV proposal, as it would be much more affordable to expand the streetcar system to Steveston in the future.  As well a streetcar system would encourage more pedestrian traffic along No. 3 Road because of their ability to ‘hop on and off’.  Mr. Westermark stated that pedestrians would not do this with a bus or a rapid transit system.



The Chair thanked Mr. Westermark for his comments and Mr. Westermark then left the table.



The Acting Director, Transportation, Victor Wei, advised that he had nothing further to add to the report. 



Councillor Steves circulated photographs which had been taken of the Tacoma, Washington streetcar system, and he referred to the photographs to comment on the proposal as it related to the Richmond system.  A copy of the photographs is on file in the City Clerk’s Office.



Discussion continued among Committee members and staff on:




the likelihood, if any, of changing the RAV proposal for light rapid transit between Richmond, Vancouver and the Airport to a streetcar system which could connect Steveston with Richmond Centre, and the impact which such a request could have on the original project




whether a streetcar system would be able to meet capacity requirements during morning and afternoon rush hours, and whether it would be possible to increase the number of cars to deal with the additional passenger requirements




the fact that Richmond City Council was on record as being in favour of an ‘at-grade’ system, and the feasibility of presenting the streetcar proposal as an alternative in the event that the two bids submitted were outside the approved budget




the need to ensure that any funds saved in the event that a streetcar system was chosen over the light rapid transit system were spent in Richmond




the differences between a streetcar system and a light rapid transit system with respect to passenger capacity, the size of the cars and tracks, potential noise and vibration




ridership for both the RAV project and the streetcar concept.



As a result of the discussion, the following motion was introduced:



It was moved and seconded



WHEREAS Richmond City Council has been advised by members of the Richmond Heritage Railroad Society that the two proponents of the Richmond-Airport-Vancouver Rapid Transit Project are prepared to consider the Streetcar Feasibility Study.







That the Streetcar Feasibility Study be forwarded to TransLink and RAVCO and that they be requested to ask the two proponents to consider the Study in the context of the BAFO process, but only:





if there was no time delay involved;





if it is possible to legally consider the streetcar proposal;





if the streetcar route extends from the Bridgepoint station to Steveston, if that option was possible; and





if any cost savings identified as a result of the implementation of the streetcar proposal are expended in Richmond; and




That TransLink and RAVCO be requested to examine the ridership issue in the context of the Streetcar Feasibility Study.




The question on the motion was not called, as the following amendment was introduced:



It was moved and seconded



That Part (1)(c) of the main motion be amended by deleting the words “to Steveston, if that option was possible”, and by substituting the following, “to at least Richmond Centre, and preferably to Steveston”.






OPPOSED:  Mayor Brodie
Cllr. Dang




The question on the main motion, as amended, was not called, as discussion continued on the impact of submitting the new proposal at such a late stage in the process.  Concern was expressed that the submission of the streetcar proposal could jeopardize the original project, and the suggestion was made that the proposal should only be considered if it was determined that the RAV project could not be constructed within the approved budget. 



As a result of the discussion, a further amendment was introduced:




It was moved and seconded



That Part (1)(a) of the main motion be amended by deleting the words “if there was no time delay involved”, and by substituting the following, “if cost savings are required”.






OPPOSED:  Cllr. Sue Halsey-Brandt




The question on the main motion, as amended was then called, and it was CARRIED with Cllrs. Howard and McNulty opposed.




(Cllr. Howard left the meeting – 6:07 p.m.








(Report:  Sept. 13/04, File No.:  03-0925-00) (REDMS No. 1332960, 1333208)



It was moved and seconded



That Policy 3561 regarding Property Tax Exemptions be amended to:




reflect the new legislative references in the Community Charter; and




include the appropriate language from the repealed sections of the Local Government Act in order to continue to provide tax exemptions for non-profit organizations that lease municipally owned property.



The question on the motion was not called, as a brief discussion ensued on the feasibility of permitting privately owned properties owned by non-profit organizations, to be tax exempt. 



(Cllr. Howard returned to the meeting – 6:10 p.m.)



The question on the motion was then called, and it was CARRIED.




(Report:  Sept. 9/04, File No.:  12-8060-20-7803) (REDMS No. 1332172, 1329038, 1328566, 1328717)



The Director of Finance, Andrew Nazareth, advised that he nothing further to add.



Reference was made by the Chair to correspondence received from Mr. Bill Alexander, Trustee, Richmond Rod & Gun Club, which requested that the organization be granted a property tax exemption under the Community Charter.  Mr. Albert Wood, President, accompanied by Mr. Bill Alexander and Mr. Paul Alexander, then came forward to speak further to the request.



Circulated to the Committee were copies of an artist’s rendering of the proposed facility to be constructed by the Rod & Gun Club on its new property at 1020 Eburne Place on Mitchell Island.  Mr. Wood spoke at length on the history of the club and provided information on their new sports complex. 



Discussion then ensued among Committee members, the delegation and staff on the Club’s request for an exemption of property taxes, and the precedent which would be set if the request was approved.  During the discussion, Mr. Wood questioned whether the City would consider the possibility of the Rod & Gun Club donating its property to the City.



(Cllr. Dang left the meeting at 6:21 p.m., during the above discussion.)



As a result of the discussion, the following referral motion was introduced:



It was moved and seconded



That the request from the Richmond Rod & Gun Club for a property tax exemption on their property at 1020 Eburne Place on Mitchell Island be referred to staff for further investigation, including the feasibility of (i) the Rod & Gun Club donating the property to the City, or (ii) entering into a long term lease.







It was moved and seconded



That Property Tax Exemption Bylaw No. 7803 be introduced and given first, second and third readings.











Councillor Steves circulated to the Committee, a copy of his letter of resignation, effective immediately, as the City’s representative on the Lower Mainland Treaty Advisory Committee.



(Cllr. Dang re-entered the meeting – 6:28 p.m.)



A brief discussion ensued, during which the Chair noted that Councillor Barnes had been appointed as the alternate to Councillor Steves and would now assume his responsibilities.








It was moved and seconded



That the meeting adjourn (6:29 p.m.).








Certified a true and correct copy of the Minutes of the meeting of the General Purposes Committee of the Council of the City of Richmond held on Monday, September 20th, 2004.



Mayor Malcolm D. Brodie

Fran J. Ashton
Executive Assistant, City Clerk’s Office