Controversy and legal ambiguity still surround the proposed Trinity Western University District in the Township of Langley. One of the central issues is whether the Township is still under the old Metro Vancouver regional growth strategy or the new regional growth strategy. The Township does not believe it will be under the new regional growth strategy until it adopts new regional context statements which show how the Township’s Official Community Plan aligns with the new regional growth strategy.
The old regional growth strategy had a Green Zone which was meant to protect “Greater Vancouver’s natural assets, including major parks, watersheds, ecologically important areas and resource lands such as farmland. It also establishes a long-term growth boundary.” The Green Zone, while a good idea, had some implementation issues as there were questions around what land was actually in the Green Zone, what land-use would be allowed within the green zone, and how land could be added or removed from the Green Zone. The old regional growth plan also lacked enforcement tools.
The new regional growth strategy shifts to a clearly defined urban containment boundary, has policies about what land-use is allowed within and outside the urban containment boundary, and has a stronger policy and enforcement framework.
Under the new regional growth strategy, the Trinity Western University District would be subject to a regional process and a vote by the Metro Vancouver board to approve the district, so it would make sense that the Township wants to be under the old regional growth strategy (with its ambiguities) to push this plan through.
On November 6th, Andrew Gage of West Coast Environmental Law sent a letter to the Township with his opinion that the Township should interpretation its existing regional context statements under the new region growth strategy. In reply a letter dated December 3rd, Lidstone & Company (Township lawyers) disagree as they believe that the Township is still under the old regional growth strategy.
With all this legal back and forth over the proposed Trinity Western University District, I wonder if the spirit of both the new and old regional growth strategies which are to preserve green space has been lost. The Trinity Western University District will create a new community on former rural land which many would consider sprawl and not the protection of the original green zone.