Metro Vancouver's regional growth strategy had been signed by all municipalities except Coquitlam. That city's reps indicate they may now be able to adopt the accord.

Deal reached to pass Metro growth strategy

Coquitlam reps drop key objections, ready to sign

A tentative deal has been reached that would see holdout city Coquitlam approve Metro Vancouver’s new regional growth strategy without changes, ending a months-long impasse.

Coquitlam and Metro reps met again July 5 and emerged with a set of assurances to settle the dispute that had been in mediated talks ahead of potential arbitration.

None of the commitments result in any change to the text of the agreement itself, averting the need to go to a new round of public hearings on the strategy.

Richmond Mayor Malcolm Brodie, Metro’s representative in the dispute-resolution talks, was cautious, saying the potential agreement still has to fleshed out by staff and be ratified by both Coquitlam council and the full Metro board.

“If everything works out it would satisfy Coquitlam and they would turn their minds to consideration of the strategy and to adopt it,” he said.

Brodie was hopeful the growth strategy – the master plan governing Metro Vancouver development for decades to come – can be passed by the end of the month.

Metro officials had feared that failing to reach a deal would force a lengthier arbitration process that might extend past this fall’s civic elections and put the accord at risk of unraveling.

Coquitlam had wanted the ability to change some land-use designations on as little as a one-third vote of the Metro board and to force a review of the growth strategy every five years on a one-third vote of the board.

Metro reps refused to consider anything less than majority votes and Coquitlam dropped both ideas.

Metro does promise to conduct a board workshop, planning staff workshop and public meeting about the plan every five years, regardless of whether the board votes to conduct a formal review that could trigger potential changes.

Coquitlam’s demand for mechanisms to gauge how the strategy is working is being addressed through bolstered benchmarking measures under Metro’s annual budget process.

Some changes to Metro procedural bylaws will be required.

Coquitlam’s other key concerns – that the growth plan is too inconsistent, providing too many exemptions for each city and failiing to define what constitutes “regionally significant” – would be referred back to a technical group of planners to determine within a year whether changes are recommended.

Coquitlam Mayor Richard Stewart said he still has concerns about the plan but believes his city can move forward.

“All of our five concerns have been addressed,” he said. “We have some give and take on both sides.”

Maureen Enser, executive director of the Urban Development Institute, said she had hoped the dispute would provide the chance for broader consultations about the concerns lodged by a coalition of business groups about Metro’s growth strategy.

She said the plan doesn’t go far enough to consider economic issues.

“We have concerns about the increase in red tape to get projects approved,” Enser said. “The economy was not given sufficient attention and this plan is not sustainable.”

The business coalition argued 70 per cent of the region’s land base is tied up in the Agricultural Land Reserve or protected as conservation and recreation, and therefore called for fewer restrictions on developing the remaining 30 per cent.

Enser called the strategy too narrowly focused, failing to meet the requirements of goods movement, the port and the Pacific Gateway.

“We need to consider the provincial interest here and the importance of this region not just to British Columbia but to Western Canada.”

The region forecasts more than a million new residents will arrive over the next 30 years and the strategy aims to ensure that happens without sacrificing farmland and green space, while increasing density along transit corridors.

It also aims to stem the conversion of industrial land to other uses.

The growth plan will be more enforceable than its predecessor – the Livable Region Strategic Plan was repeatedly defied by some cities – but will provide a mechanism for appealing board decisions.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Construction underway for new Cloverdale elementary school

The $33 million school is to seat 655 students

George Garrett retires from Volunteer Cancer Drivers Society board

Society completes more than 58,000 trips since 2016

B.C. families financially affected by pandemic eligible for grocery gift cards

Program open to struggling families in Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley communities

Two Surrey schools report COVID-19 exposures, including second contact for Panorama Ridge

Fraser Health has created a new webpage listing COVID-19 cases in schools

B.C. or Ontario? Residential school survivors fight move of court battle

It’s now up to Ontario’s Court of Appeal to sort out the venue question

B.C. transportation minister will not seek re-election

Claire Trevena has held the position since 2017

Young B.C. cancer survivor rides 105-km with Terry Fox’s brother

Jacob Bredenhof and Darrell Fox’s cycling trek raises almost $90,000 for cancer research

VIDEO: Shots fired outside Langley gas station that was scene of 2018 homicide

No reports of injuries in Saturday evening incident

B.C. migrant, undocumented workers rally for permanent residency program

Rally is part of the Amnesty for Undocumented Workers Campaign led by the Migrant Workers Centre

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Preparations underway for pandemic election in Saskatchewan and maybe B.C.

Administrators in B.C. and around the country are also looking to expand voting by mail during the pandemic

Nearly 20 per cent of COVID-19 infections among health-care workers by late July

WHO acknowledged the possibility that COVID-19 might be spread in the air under certain conditions

Ferry riders say lower fares are what’s most needed to improve service

Provincial government announces findings of public engagement process

Most Read