Stephen Rees's blog

Thoughts about the relationships between transport and the urban area it serves

Metro Vancouver’s growth strategy hits interference

with 2 comments

Charlie Smith in the Georgia Straight covers the regional strategy but gets misled. The fact that a Vancouver Councillor says their staff are “too busy” is not the real story. The fact is that the regional strategy has drifted off course since 1995 – and Metro is now trying to get it back on track. But nothing is really likely to change very much – because “The regional growth strategy requires unanimous approval from all 21 Metro Vancouver municipalities.” Up to now the municipal level of government has almost carte blanche to do as it wishes without oversight when it comes to land use – with the exception of federal lands (of course) and the ALR. It is therefore not at all surprising that the region’s Mayors do not like the idea of Metro having some oversight

Vancouver councillor David Cadman worked for the regional government for almost 20 years and conducted public consultation on the Livable Region Strategic Plan, which was approved in 1996. In a phone interview with the Straight, he said his biggest concern about the new draft plan is that it puts parts of the “green zone” at risk. That’s because the provincial government changed the legislation to permit a two-thirds majority vote by the Metro Vancouver board to remove land from the green zone—which includes watersheds, farmland, conservation areas, and major parks.

And that is a big deal because there is always pressure to release more land – not least from people who think that will somehow help cure Vancouver’s housing affordability problem.

In most other places, it is recognised that there is a regional interest – and that sometimes municipal councillors may well need reminding that there is a legitimate broader public interest outside of their boundaries. Because the GVRD is NOT a megacity but a collective of municipal governments there is no regional voice at all. Just some staff who try point out that there does need to be a way to ensure an agreed strategy is actually followed – and bunch of Mayors busy scratching each other’s backs.  Just changing the name from GVRD to Metro changes nothing.

Written by Stephen Rees

June 11, 2009 at 7:15 pm

2 Responses

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  1. Stephen,
    I wasn’t misled. I merely reported what was said and what was proposed in the plan. I’m not as big a dolt as you seem to think I am. But I appreciate you bringing attention to this article, which attempted to bring forth the concerns of the Livable Region Coalition, among others.
    Charlie Smith

    Charlie Smith

    June 12, 2009 at 8:58 pm

  2. Charlie

    I had to re-read what I wrote to try and understand why you feel so slighted. Andrea Reimer is not speaking against the regional strategy – just that Vancouver cannot meet Metro’s timetable. I do not think you are a dolt at all – we just have a different perspective.

    Unanimous approval means that the strategy will be watered down to the point where it is acceptable – but an effective strategy would require change in the way municipalities behave. As far as I can tell, there is no way that either the province or the municipalities will allow an effective regional government to emerge – and without that we will continue to drift as we have done for the last 20 years or so.

    Stephen Rees

    June 13, 2009 at 6:15 am

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