Metro Vancouver's regional growth strategy is now approved by all member cities.

Metro Vancouver's regional growth strategy is now approved by all member cities.

Metro Vancouver growth plan clears final hurdle

Strategy passes after holdout city Coquitlam signs on

A new accord to limit and shape growth across Metro Vancouver for the next 30 years is now in effect after the only holdout city – Coquitlam – dropped its objections and signed on.

The new regional growth strategy was adopted July 29 and replaces the former Livable Region Strategic Plan.

It should be more enforceable, requiring cities to concentrate dense development within an urban containment boundary that protects farmland, low-density rural areas and green space from sprawl.

But the key changes are new rules to limit the redevelopment of industrial land into condos and stem the rapid proliferation of suburban office parks in areas hard to serve with transit.

“That imposes tremendous public costs,” Burnaby Mayor and Metro regional planning chair Derek Corrigan said.

Inefficient development undercuts transit use and increases road congestion and air pollution, he said, increasing public costs in other ways.

Critics, including some Coquitlam reps, had argued the plan is regional in name only because Metro granted too much flexibility to each city to gain their support.

That means, for example, golf courses are protected as green space in some cities but available for redevelopment in others.

A committee of regional planners is to determine within a year whether to recommend changes to make the plan more consistent.

Corrigan conceded the new protections to preserve land for industry and to slow office-park sprawl could have been stronger.

“It was a hard battle to make the gains we did make,” he said. “But these gains were a great stride forward from our 1996 plan.”

A citizens’ watchdog group said the land-use deal was drawn up with little public awareness as planners in each city customized how it would apply locally.

Most disappointed will be a coalition of business groups that wanted looser development rules since most of the land base is already protected by the Agricultural Land Reserve or other designations.

The Business Coalition for a Sustainable Region feared more red tape on development would stifle job growth and constrict the shipment of goods through the growing Pacific Gateway.

Metro and Coquitlam seemed headed for arbitration over the impasse, but Coquitlam reps backed down after mediated talks.

Had Coquitlam kept its heels dug in, the delay might have made the growth strategy a political football in November’s civic election, unravelling the agreement.

Coquitlam Mayor Richard Stewart said a couple of councillors still don’t support the plan and he also has concerns.

“The region has gone to great lengths to accede to the wishes of each community,” Stewart said.

“It’s better than nothing but it has some significant shortcomings. Those of us who believe in regional planning might perceive that this isn’t regional planning.”

The strategy was ratified by all 20 cities, the Tsawwassen First Nation, TransLink and both neighbouring regional districts after several years of work, three sets of consultations and dozens of public meetings.

Port Moody only signed after it was exempted from meeting its population growth targets until after the Evergreen Line is built.

Metro planners predict the region will attract a million more residents over the next three decades and the plan aims to accommodate them without sacrificing farmland and green space.

The vision is to build compact urban communities where residents can more easily walk, bike or take transit from home to where they work, study or play.

Just Posted

Surrey Mayor delivering “virtual” State of the City Address on Tuesday. (Screen shot)
Surrey Mayor says city is ‘earning accolades from near and far’

Doug McCallum delivered his second State of the City Address on Tuesday since being elected in 2018

North Surrey Sport and Ice Complex. (Photo: larkgroup.com)
North Surrey rink, Newton playground earn B.C. excellence awards

Awards presented by BC Recreation and Parks Association

The George Massey Tunnel will be closed overnight May 28 and 29 to test the tunnel’s fire suppression system and overhead lane control signals. (Black Press Media file photo)
Overnight Massey Tunnel closures coming May 28, 29

Closure to allow safe testing of tunnel’s fire suppression system and overhead lane control signals

Missing Surrey man Bernard Grempel. (Photo: Surrey RCMP)
Surrey RCMP seeks help to find missing man

Bernard Grempel was reported missing on Sunday and hasn’t been seen since Friday

Members of Whalley Legion Junior Band at an event in the early 1980s. (Facebook photo)
SURREY NOW & THEN: When the city’s ‘official band’ marched with Whalley Legion title

A weekly look back at Surrey-area landmark sites, events and people

Reinhard “Bud” Loewen of Abbotsford has now been charged with 21 counts of sexual assault related to his massage business. (Facebook photo)
Former Abbotsford masseur now faces 21 counts of sexual assault

Bud Loewen of Bud’s Massage Therapy initally faced three charges

Over the years, police have worked with sketch artists to draw what the boys could have looked like at the times of their deaths. (Vancouver Police Department)
DNA breakthrough expected in cold case involving murdered Vancouver boys, 7 and 8

Forensic analysts are working to identify relatives of the children, whose bodies were found in Stanley Park in 1953

Livestock competitions have been part of the Pacific National Exhibiton for more than a century. (Maple Ridge News files)
B.C. provides $50 million to keep major tourist attractions going

Tour bus companies also eligible for latest COVID-19 aid

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
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

Dr. Euiseok Kim is the medical director of the new Abbotsford post-COVID-19 recovery clinic. (Submitted)
Post-COVID-19 recovery clinic opens in Abbotsford

New facility following model of first clinic which opened in Surrey

Derek Descoteau with his trusty dog Harvey. (Photo submitted)
Friends provide continuing comfort for family in wake of unresolved senseless B.C. murder

Case remains before the courts five years after Derek Descoteau’s abrupt stabbing death in Chemainus

Two small dogs were also discovered by the officer, one had died, and the other was taken by animal control and sent for veterinary care with the BC SPCA. (File Photo)
Body discovered in parked van in Mission with 2 dogs, 1 dead

Remains in state of decomposure, surviving dog sent for veterinary care with BC SPCA

A prowling coyote proved no match for a stray black cat who chased it out of a Port Moody parking lot Friday, May 14. (Twitter/Screen grab)
VIDEO: Cat who chases away coyote asked to join Port Moody, Vancouver police 

Caught on camera Friday, the black cat jumps out from under a parked car and runs the wild animal out of a vacant lot

Most Read