Tangential Vancouverism: Projects for Vancouver’s Urbanism explores the potential for new “urban extensions” to be tenably designed as vibrant constituents of city life in Vancouver. Read on »
The Thin Green Line that defines the Agricultural Land Reserve is a boundary that frames our attempts to mitigate growth, preserve arable land and maintain an agrarian landscape character in municipalities undergoing a massive transformation from rural to urban form. The ALR boundary establishes a wonderful edge in many places – a stark contrast between land uses, reinforced by the ‘boundary’ landscape, a place to observe from the safety of the edge.
In other areas however, the boundary is pockmarked by odd and incongruous land uses: big-box religion, surrounded by acres of occasionally used parking, is acceptable in the ALR; the placeless fake landscapes of golf courses – one of the worst offenders of chemical pollution – are permitted. Monster homes, often built cheaply and without any vernacular context, effectively suburbanize the ALR. There is a great irony in the acceptability of land use types that contradict the intentions of the policy, erode the viability of the agricultural resource and ultimately make the Thin Green Line meaningless.
Rather than making a futile attempt to reinforce this boundary, our proposal is to find opportunities to integrate seemingly incompatible agricultural uses on the other side of the line, to seek out the lost space in suburban sprawl that pushes up against the ALR, and propose a reciprocal response to the interlopers in the agrarian landscape. We propose to study the boundary as it exists in Richmond where the latent opportunities to interlope into lost space are abundant, and where the opportunity to demonstrate possible compatibilities (in a place where agrarian traditions meet the new phenomenon of Asian cuisine) and a new landscape vernacular is most potent. Our hopes are that the edge of the ALR becomes a transect, not a boundary, and begins to influence the built form and character of urban development deeper within the urban areas of our cities.