Vancouver city council has voted to accept the proposed Metro Vancouver Regional Growth Strategy.
The strategy, which succeeds the Livable Region Strategic Plan (LRSP) adopted in 1996, outlines how the Metro Vancouver area will be developed until 2040.
In advance of the council vote Thursday (March 4), several speakers urged council to delay their decision on the regional plan.
Randy Helten, founder of MetroVanWatch.ca, called the strategy the “most important document ever to be created by Metro Vancouver” and said he doesn’t believe the public has been fully made aware of the policy.
“The public input in the last year or so of the development of this policy has been very, very low,” he told council.
City of Vancouver senior planner Randy Pecarski said in a presentation to councillors that five public hearings were held on the latest version of the strategy in four different locations around the region.
Vancouver consultant Elizabeth Murphy also urged council to seek an extension to the process and said there are “many concerns about process in general”.
“The RGS is a complex far-reaching document”¦council and the citizens should be fully informed about all aspects of the RGS in a transparent, independent analysis,” she said. “The public for the most part is simply unaware of what is proposed in the RGS.”
Murphy argued the growth strategy allows urban sprawl, that the urban containment boundary proposed in the new plan is not as effective in protecting land as the “green zone” featured in the LRSP, and that the requirements for conversion of land to other uses are lower than in the previous plan.
Mayor Gregor Robertson said while he wished the strategy was “better than it is”, he called it a much-improved plan over the LRSP.
“There have been compromises made undoubtedly to get a shot at consensus around the region here, but it’s taken many years and I think what we’ve got in front of us here is a reasonable plan to work from, and our success in terms of achieving the strategies”¦will depend on our vigilance on the Metro board,” Robertson told council.
The main goals of the growth strategy, according to the document, are to create a compact urban area, support a sustainable economy, protect the environment and respond to climate-change impacts, develop complete communities, and support sustainable-transportation choices.
The motion to accept the proposed strategy was opposed by councillors Suzanne Anton and David Cadman.
Anton said while there are “many good things” in the plan, she disagreed with Vancouver giving up some control over its industrial-land-use policy.
Cadman called the strategy flawed, and voiced concerns about how the strategy will change the “green zone” that was outlined in the LRSP.
“If you have a green zone, people understand that that’s to be preserved,” he said. “If you have a containment boundary, well you can always vary containment boundaries.”
“I think it’s a 30-year strategy, and we’ll look back 30 years from now and say why did we do it,” he added.
Each of the region’s 22 municipalities have until March 18 to vote on the proposed strategy. Surrey and Richmond councils have also endorsed the plan.
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