‘No growth’ plan will thwart business: coalition

Metro Vancouver strategy under fire as barrier to development

  • May. 6, 2011 5:00 p.m.

A coalition of business groups is pressing Metro Vancouver to redraw its regional growth strategy, saying it could stifle job creation and stunt development.

The new master plan governing how the region grows, okayed by all cities except Coquitlam, is going to a non-binding dispute resolution process to iron out the impasse with that council.

The B.C. Chamber of Commerce, Business Council of B.C. and Urban Development Institute – calling themselves the Business Coalition for a Sustainable Region – say the plan contains critical flaws and vests too much power with the regional board.

“We look at it as a no growth plan,” said Maureen Enser, executive director of the Urban Development Institute. “It takes things the way they are and freezes them for the next 30 years.”

It will be too difficult, time-consuming and bureaucratic to amend the plan in the future to meet needs that can’t be anticipated today, the coalition argues.

“We’re adding more layers or gatekeepers,” Enser said.

She said businesses or developers wanting a development passed that might require approval at the Metro board level may have to lobby nearly every council in the region in advance to ensure the project isn’t defeated.

“It’s a great vehicle for anybody who wants to oppose a project,” Enser said.

She denied the coalition is against the plan’s urban containment boundary or its key goal of concentrating growth in urban areas to avoid more sprawl.

But she said the plan lacks flexibility, particularly in terms of where industry and business can locate.

Enser said 70 per cent of land in the region is already protected from development by the Agricultural Land Reserve and the Green Zone, which becomes conservation and recreation areas under the new strategy.

“We’re dealing with basically 30 per cent of the land that remains, much of which has been already developed,” she said.

“We’ve got a very limited land supply. We’ve got to use it very carefully.”

The coalition has offered few specifics on how they’d change the document but wants its concerns addressed when talks begin between Metro and Coquitlam reps.

Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan, chair of the regional planning committee, said the business groups had years and multiple rounds of public consultations to table their concerns.

“It’s a bit late to start jumping up and complaining about the plan,” he said.

Corrigan said he doesn’t understand why the business groups wouldn’t welcome the land-use certainty the growth strategy will deliver – unless they have the “nefarious” aim of swaying a “stupid council” without facing the safeguards of the regional board.

“We’re talking about a bunch of business people who see an opportunity to make a quick buck by getting a council to turn agricultural land to industrial or industrial land to residential,” he said.

“And that potential loss of opportunity for those windfall profits is making some of them angry.”

The 60-day non-binding process to resolve Coquitlam’s objections must start by May 16.

Metro politicians had wanted arbitration but were overruled by the provincial government.

Corrigan and others fear the ratification of the growth plan could drag past the November civic elections, leaving the accord at risk of unravelling after new councils take power.

Coquitlam councillors say the plan is too inconsistent from city to city because because multiple exemptions were made to win each council’s approval.

While many amendments have been made to address local objections, the growth strategy requires councils to pass regional context statements that show how they will comply with it.

They can then be held to those binding commitments through a dispute resolution system.

Metro says that will make the new plan more enforceable than the outdated Livable Region Strategic Plan, which some cities repeatedly defied.

The vast majority of development proposals would still be decided by the local council alone. A project would only go to a vote of the regional board if the proposed land use is contrary to the designations in the regional growth strategy, such as a dense development in rural or agricultural areas outside the urban containment boundary.

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.

For more info on Metro Vancouver’s Regional Growth Strategy see: http://www.metrovancouver.org/planning/development/strategy/Pages/default.aspx

 

Metro Regional Growth Strategy Nov 2010

// <![CDATA[

(function() { var scribd = document.createElement(“script”); scribd.type = “text/javascript”; scribd.async = true; scribd.src = “http://www.scribd.com/javascripts/embed_code/inject.js”; var s = document.getElementsByTagName(“script”)[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(scribd, s); })();

//

Just Posted

Surrey’s new top cop doesn’t believe residents have lost faith in the RCMP

Brian Edwards will take over the reins of Canada’s largest RCMP detachment on Jan. 6

Surrey Schools to sell property meant for school due to close proximity to pretrial

Sale funds would go toward purchasing new potential school site

Surrey mother voices concerns about Highway 15 intersection after crash

Kim Squirell’s daughter and her friend injured in collision at 176 Street and 40 Avenue

Eight Surrey groups to share $375K in grant money

The not-for-profit groups focus on public safety and the environment

SURREY HISTORY: The 1914 Sedro-Woolley bank robbery and its connection to Cloverdale

Columnist Sue Bryant looks back at the Pacific Northwest’s biggest bank heist of 1914 and its entanglement with the Surrey area

MAP: Christmas light displays in Surrey and beyond

Send us pictures of your National Lampoon-style lit-up homes, nativity scenes or North Pole playlands

‘British Columbians are paying too much’: Eby directs ICBC to delay rate application

Attorney General David Eby calls for delay in order to see how two reforms play out

VIDEO: Octopus, bald eagle battle after bird ‘bites off more than it can chew’ in B.C. waters

B.C. crew films fight between the two feisty animals in Quatsino off north Vancouver Island

Couple who bought $120k banana duct-taped to wall say artwork will be ‘iconic’

Pair compared it to Warhol’s ‘Campbell’s Soup Cans,’ which was initially ‘met with mockery’

Race to replace Andrew Scheer could be a crowded one

Many familiar faces, such as Maxime Bernier, Jason Kenney, Doug Ford and Kevin O’Leary, have said no

National cold case hunters take on search for missing man last seen in B.C.

Kristofer Couture’s car was found at Chilliwack trailhead in January but there’s been no sign since

What’s happening: week of Dec. 12

Events and community listings for North Delta

Owner surrenders dogs chained up outside among scrap metal, garbage to BC SPCA

Shepherd-breed dogs were living in ‘deplorable conditions.’

Most Read