West Vancouver mayor Pamela Goldsmith-Jones has hinted residents may get a referendum if the district decides it wants to develop above the 1,200-foot elevation line.
“Well, that would be a big public debate,” Goldsmith-Jones told the Straight by phone from her office on February 16. “It might even be the subject of a referendum.”
The mayor was discussing the Regional Growth Strategy, Metro Vancouver’s new document mapping out development and planning to 2040.
Approved by Metro directors on January 14, the strategy will replace the Livable Region Strategic Plan once all municipalities in the region ratify it.
Tonight (February 21), West Vancouver council will receive the latest version of the regional document.
According to tonight’s agenda, district staff are recommending that council seek clarification about a land-use designation in the RGS known as the “urban containment boundary”, and where it is in West Vancouver.
This boundary was not in the LRSP. It has led to concern among critics who feel the transition from the old LRSP, with its designated green zones, to the RGS opens up the possibility of development in new areas.
Critics of the RGS, like Randy Helten of MetroVanWatch.ca and Vancouver-based consultant Elizabeth Murphy, have hammered away at Metro over several aspects of the strategy, not least its complexity.
Both insist that Metro Vancouver should avoid opening the upper slopes of Hollyburn Mountain to possible development and make the 1,200-foot line the absolute highest build-out point. These critics argue there is a large area designated as within the urban containment boundary which is way past the 1,200-foot mark.
In the interview, Goldsmith-Jones, said, “What is most unfortunate is the phrase ”˜urban containment boundary’, because it connotes urban development. And I don’t know why we use that language, and I will expect, when this comes to council on Monday, that council will push back around that, because it is very misleading.”
But that’s not the same as saying that the actual goal or public policy is changing, the mayor added.
“So, in West Van, the 1,200-foot contour line is respected in our OCP [official community plan] as the limit of development,” she said. “However, and this is sort of subtle, there is one part where it may sort of make sense—and a future council will decide this—to develop above the 1,200-foot line in just a little parcel in order to trade and preserve land that is to the west.”