Focus on the Record – Records of Taxation

Municipal governments in BC have the authority to tax property owners to pay for the costs of governance and local services.

Bylaw 1 of 1881 - Bylaw to raise municipal revenue.

Bylaw 1 of 1881 – Bylaw “for the raising a Municipal Revenue.” (Note: document damaged in 1913 fire which destroyed Richmond’s first Town Hall.) City of Richmond Archives Bylaws

The City of Richmond Archives holds records of these activities carried out in Richmond dating back to the earliest years of the municipality. These include property assessment and the preparation of assessment and local improvement tax rolls, the collection of taxes, tax sales, and the hearing of taxpayer appeals.

Page from municipal Tax Ledger, 1887. City of Richmond Archives Tax Ledgers

Page from municipal Tax Ledger, 1887. City of Richmond Archives Financial Ledgers

The municipality was responsible for tax assessments until 1974 when the BC Assessment Authority was established. Tax assessment and collection rolls dating from 1905 are available on microfilm for research at the Archives.  From 1896 to1974 a Court of Revision for assessments sat to hear appeals from property owners. The Archives holds original minutes of these meetings.

Letter from the BC Packers Association requesting change in tax assessment.

Letter from the BC Packers Association requesting change in tax assessment, 1915. City of Richmond Archives MR 2, File 5

Other records relating to taxation in the Archives’ holdings include early ledgers recording the collection of taxes and delinquencies, early Clerk’s Department correspondence files, files relating to tax sales and taxation policy, and photographs of buildings taken by the municipal Assessor.

Assessor's photograph of Lulu Theatre, 1958. City of Richmond Archives Photograph 1988 18 31

Assessor’s photograph of Lulu Theatre, 1958. City of Richmond Archives Photograph 1988 18 31

[Note – this is an updated version of an article first published in the Spring 2013 issue of the Archives News]

Focus on the Record – Records of Heritage Preservation

Since 1961 when the Historical and Museum Advisory Committee was formed, Richmond’s municipal government has been involved in identifying and preserving heritage sites in the community.

The old Richmond United/Methodist Church building being moved to Minoru Park, 1967. City of Richmond Archives Photograph 1989 33 1

The old Richmond United/Methodist Church building being moved to Minoru Park, 1967. City of Richmond Archives Photograph 1989 33 1

One of the first major heritage projects undertaken was in 1967, when the original Richmond United/Methodist Church building at the corner of River Road and Cambie was purchased by the municipality, moved to Minoru Park and renamed Minoru Chapel.

Steveston Museum and Post Office (formerly Royal Bank / Northern Bank) during restoration, 1980. City of Richmond Archives Photograph 1997 42 1 125

Steveston Museum and Post Office (formerly Royal Bank / Northern Bank) during restoration, 1980. City of Richmond Archives Photograph 1997 42 1 125

 

The acquisition and restoration of heritage buildings by the municipality continued in the 1970s and 1980s, with the Royal Bank (originally Northern Bank) in Steveston, London Farm, and the Britannia Shipyard being the most notable during this time.

London Farm before restoration, 1977. City of Richmond Archives Photograph 1985 187 7

London Farm before restoration, 1977. City of Richmond Archives Photograph 1985 187 7

Britannia Shipyard area, 1988. City of Richmond Archives, Heritage Advisory Committee, File 2-1-3

Britannia Shipyard area, 1988. City of Richmond Archives, Heritage Advisory Committee, File 2-1-3

Other important heritage preservation activities included the establishment of the Steveston Heritage Conservation Area and the development and preservation of Garry Point Park and Scotch Pond.

Cover of the first Heritage Inventory for Richmond, 1984. City of Richmond Archives GP 34

Cover of the first Heritage Inventory for Richmond, 1984. City of Richmond Archives GP 34

The establishment of a Heritage Advisory Committee by the municipality in 1984 marked the beginning of a formalized program for heritage preservation. That committee, later reconstituted as the Richmond Heritage Commission, conducted a number of important heritage studies, not the least of which was a formal Heritage Inventory for Richmond. The first inventory was published in 1984 and several updates have been made since.

The City of Richmond Archives has comprehensive records documenting heritage preservation activities in the community, dating back to the records of the Historical and Museum Advisory Committee and including minutes, research files, project files, studies and reports of the Heritage Advisory Committee/Heritage Commission. In addition, records of the Engineering Department and the Leisure Services Department document restoration, maintenance and programming activities at municipally-owned heritage sites. Records of the Planning Department, Law Department and Clerk’s Office provide an accurate picture of the process by which heritage properties were acquired, and how policies relating to non-City owned property of heritage significance have developed.

[Note – this is an updated version of an article first published in the Fall 2014 issue of the Archives News]

Focus on the Record – Records of Early Parks and Recreational Facilities

The establishment of a Recreation Commission in 1954 and the subsequent incorporation of parks and recreation services into the administrative structure of municipal government under the direction of the Parks and Recreation Commission resulted in the rapid growth of recreational land, facilities, and services in Richmond.

Little League Tournament at Brighouse Park, 1961.

Little League Tournament at Brighouse Park, 1961. City of Richmond Archives Photograph 1978 33 28

Prior to the establishment of the Commission, just over 20 acres of land in the municipality was parkland, much of which was maintained by local community associations and groups.  The Parks and Recreation Commission was initially established composed of elected members of both Council and School Board, which allowed for the coordinated development of school playing fields and municipal parks, simplified the planning of their locations, and reduced duplication of services.

Deed of Land. Purchase of part of present-day Minoru Park, 1958. City of Richmond Archives MR 66, File 1540

Deed of Land. Purchase of part of present-day Minoru Park, 1958. City of Richmond Archives MR 66, File 1540

In 1958, major plans and projects came to fruition under the direction of the Commission, the most significant being the purchase of land from BC Turf and Country Club, the owners of the Brighouse Park Race Track.  That land, first known as Centennial Park, is the southern part of what is now Minoru Park.  By 1959, Centennial Pool, Richmond’s first swimming pool, had been opened on the site.

Swim meet at Centennial Pool, 1963. City of Richmond Archives Photograph 1985 77 26

Swim meet at Centennial Pool, 1963. City of Richmond Archives Photograph 1985 77 26

Development there continued through the 1960s with the installation of a track, the building of a pavilion, arena, arts centre and library.

Opening of Minoru Sports Pavilion, 1964. City of Richmond Archives Photograph 1978 32 40

Opening of Minoru Sports Pavilion, 1964. City of Richmond Archives Photograph 1978 32 40

In 1970, the municipality acquired 217 acres for the Richmond Nature Park as the first of many new parks and community centre projects in that decade.

Aerial view of Richmond Nature Park, 1977. City of Richmond Archives Photograph 1978 41 5

Aerial view of Richmond Nature Park, 1977. City of Richmond Archives Photograph 1978 41 5

The City of Richmond Archives holds records documenting the growth of recreational opportunities in Richmond, including minutes of the Parks and Recreation Commission, bylaws and bylaw files relating to park acquisition and the building and maintenance of facilities, administrative and operational records of the early Recreation Department and the later Leisure Services Department, records of the Richmond School Board, and records of community associations and cultural and sports groups affiliated with the Commission.

[Note – this is an updated version of an article first published in the Spring 2014 issue of the Archives News]

Focus on the Record – Records of Early Dyking and Drainage

The Dyke at London's, Lulu Island, 1908. City of Richmond Archives Photograph 1978 5 6

The dyke at London’s, Lulu Island, 1908. City of Richmond Archives Photograph 1978 5 6

In 1936 the Township of Richmond assumed control of dyking and drainage activities within its boundaries by amalgamating its own works established by by-law with those of two other existing authorities: the New Lulu Island Slough Dyking District (NLISDD) and the Lulu Island West Dyking District (LIWDD).

Dyking and the Dredge "Beaver No. 2" in Steveston area, ca. 1905. City of Richmond Archives Photograph 1978 14 4

Dyking and the dredge “Beaver No. 2” in Steveston area, ca. 1905. City of Richmond Archives Photograph 1978 14 4

These two bodies had been established by petition of landowners to the provincial legislature: the NLISDD in 1900 encompassing the slough complex from Francis Road south; the LIWDD in 1905 largely encompassing the area west of No. 3 Road. Commissioners elected to administer these districts were responsible for appointing an engineer who drew up technical plans and assessments of the land benefited.

The City of Richmond Archives holds a wide assortment of records of these two bodies including minutes, assessment rolls, petitions and correspondence. Many provide details of an evolving landscape, where drainage of land and protection from periodic flooding was crucial to the success of farming activities.

Tax notice for Lulu Island West Dyking District, 1921. City of Richmond Archives, Thompson family fonds

Tax notice for Lulu Island West Dyking District, 1921. City of Richmond Archives, Thompson family fonds

Because the land was taxed by these bodies to pay for works, there were detailed records kept of land valuation and plentiful communication between the commissioners and landowners, including minutes of courts of revision. The records provide a vivid picture of early agricultural land use and the transition from private to public dyking.

In addition, Council minutes and bylaws, along with early records of the Board of Works, provide evidence of other dyking and drainage activities in the municipality, as well as of works after the dyking districts were amalgamated with the municipal government.

Flood box at Woodward's Slough, 1952. City of Richmond Archives Photograph 1977 1 8

Flood box at Woodward’s Slough, 1952. City of Richmond Archives Photograph 1977 1 8

[Note – this is an updated version of an article first published in the Fall 2012 issue of the Archives News]

Focus on the Record – Records of Early Policing

Richmond has had four distinct policing regimes, each documented in records held at the Archives: police constables appointed by Council, a small force regulated by a Board, the BC Provincial Police and lastly the RCMP.

Chief of Police Andrew Waddell in 1914. City of Richmond Archives Photograph 1985 206 1

Chief of Police Andrew Waddell in 1914. City of Richmond Archives Photograph 1985 206 1

The earliest police force consisted of a constable or constables appointed and administered by Town Council. An overview of this early development can be had by reading Council minutes and reports to Council from that period.  Other municipal records and reference material in the Archives provide reference for important events involving the police, including the murder of Chief of Police Alexander Main in 1900.

The oversight of policing activities was enhanced by the creation of two bodies separate from Council. The Board of Licence Commissioners was established in 1889 with the power to licence and inspect establishments such as hotels and saloons serving liquor.  Enforcement activities relating to this licensing were carried out by police constables. The Archives holds the minutes of the Board from 1894 to 1917, which tell a colourful if partial tale of Richmond’s early night life.

Report to the Board of Licence Commissioners, September, 1917. City of Richmond Archives MR 403, File BLC 1-1

Report to the Board of Licence Commissioners, September, 1917. City of Richmond Archives MR 403, File BLC 1-1

In 1915, Council established the Board of Police Commissioners to appoint and manage the police force. Chaired by the Reeve, the Board carried out a variety of administrative functions and received reports from the Chief of Police on crime and police actions and complaints from citizens with regard to law and order and police conduct. The Archives holds the largely hand-written minutes of this Board for most of its existence, until its dissolution in 1941.

Annual Report to the Board of Police Commissioners, 1916. City of Richmond Archives MR 404, File BPC 1-1

First page of Annual Report to the Board of Police Commissioners, 1916. City of Richmond Archives MR 404, File BPC 1-1

In November 1940 Council decided to hand over local policing to the BC Provincial Police. Although this decision marked the end of Richmond’s own police force, the story of policing in the municipality continues in other records held by the Archives.

Municipal records series 42 (1914-1988) includes a wide range of records created or received by the City concerning policing activities and services, and justice issues. Files in this series include monthly reports from the local detachment of the Provincial Police (1941-1950), as well as various reports from the RCMP from the time it took over municipal policing in Richmond in August, 1950.

Group photograph of RCMP Richmond Detachment personnel, including Police Magistrate R.C. Palmer, in the 1950s. City of Richmond Archives Photograph 2010 37 1

Group photograph of RCMP Richmond Detachment personnel, including Police Magistrate R.C. Palmer, in the 1950s. City of Richmond Archives Photograph 2010 37 1

[Note – this is an updated version of an article first published in the Fall 2013 issue of the Archives News]