Race to watch: Massey Tunnel replacement, ALR homes loom large in Richmond civic election

Click to play video: 'Campaign issues in Delta' Campaign issues in Delta
WATCH: The upcoming municipal election deals in part with a local issue that has big implications for all of Metro Vancouver. As Catherine Urquhart reports, one of the biggest issues in Delta affects thousands of drivers right across the region – Oct 12, 2018

There is expected to be plenty of turnover at city halls across Metro Vancouver following this month’s civic election, but one city that may see little change is Richmond.

Incumbent Mayor Malcolm Brodie won the 2014 municipal election with nearly 70 per cent of the vote and is the favourite to win again in Richmond, a city that has had only three mayors since 1974.

Like much of the region, housing remains a hot topic among voters. Specifically, Richmond politicians have had to deal with large homes built on land in the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR).

From May: Richmond set to vote on farmland monster homes

Click to play video: 'Richmond set to vote on farmland monster homes' Richmond set to vote on farmland monster homes
Richmond set to vote on farmland monster homes – May 13, 2018

Earlier this year, the city decided to maintain the current maximum size of over 10,000 square feet on farmland and will allow secondary homes of 3,200 square feet for farm workers on eight- to 25-hectare lots.

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Brodie said council has done its best to “curb the worst of the excesses in terms of the big houses, but I think we need to go farther. I don’t think that city council went far enough and that’s the position I’ve taken for quite a while.”

Brodie says another issue that keeps coming up is traffic congestion.

Mayoral candidates Hong Guo and Cliff Wei highlight the need to get moving on the Massey Tunnel replacement. The provincial government cancelled the 10-lane bridge project and Transportation Minister Claire Trevena is still reviewing a report from engineer Stan Cowdell.

“The bridge is the solution for people who no longer afford a house in Richmond and still wish to keep their jobs or businesses in Richmond,” Wei said.

Mayoral candidate Don Flintoff said more work needs to be done to determine how a tunnel replacement will impact traffic throughout the region.

“You can lobby the provincial government, but you better come with a solution,” he said.

He notes that a tunnel replacement would likely mean more vehicles travelling from Delta to Richmond, impacting traffic in the area.

WATCH: Should the Massey Tunnel be replaced?

Click to play video: 'Should the Massey Tunnel be replaced?' Should the Massey Tunnel be replaced?
Should the Massey Tunnel be replaced? – Sep 19, 2018

“It’s great to relieve the impact on Delta, but what does it do to Richmond? What happens to the Arthur Laing Bridge, the Knight Street Bridge?”

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Candidate Roy Sakata said the “bridge is not a good option” and the focus should be on twinning the tunnel and “rapid transit enhancement.”

Sakata has also floated the idea of creating a commuter ferry system connecting Steveston and Ladner.

Brodie remains the front-runner, but his opponents say the incumbent’s long tenure has led to complacency.

“We are lucky that we have some fantastic employees within city hall, but as an institution that has been governed by the same person for 17 years, I believe city hall and the constituents of Richmond need to hear a new voice,” Guo said.

READ MORE: Race to Watch: After decades of Lois Jackson, Delta is getting a change in the mayor’s office

Guo is facing a citation from the law society relating to millions of dollars alleged to have gone missing from her company’s trust account.

Richmond is the only city in the region where all current city councillors are running for re-election. Council consists of several parties that have worked together to form coalitions.

Brodie described council as a place where “people pretty much they vote their conscience … so it’s a matter of discussing it with people as individuals and I just don’t worry about the parties or the groups.”

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— With files from Emily Lazatin and Estefania Duran

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