Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Metro Vancouver Future of the Region Sustainability Discussions

Part Two of a Three Part Series

The following are key messages that the participants came up with after working out the scenarios and discussions:

Integrating Transportation & The Economy
  • Initial discussions tended to focus on specific issues relating to transportation or the regional economy as seperate themes - it appears that participants did not initially preceive a strong link between the two themes as an integrated package.
  • Many participants expressed the view that the regional economy should embrace a flow of services, ideas and capital.
  • The region has assumed the role of a gateway city to North America because it is in a unique geographical position for goods arriving from and departing for China and the Orient.
Seeing Ourselves as part of a Larger Economic Entity
  • The region is not seen as a closed-off system that can operate seperately from the rest of the continent or global economy.
  • Many forces impacting the region cannot be successfully dealt with at the municipal level in isolation from neighbours. A coordinated common approach for the whole economic region would work better.
  • Acting as a region may require tax base sharing.
  • Utilizing regional growth management as a tool to reduce impact on the climate should be a significant goal.
Providing & Paying For Infrastructure
  • There was a strong sentiment that perhaps some of the current infrastructure proposals for the region's transportation network were now inappropriate as we enter a post-peak oil economy.
  • It was suggested that building the "right" infrastructure for the future regional community requires a "re-thinking" of the current infrastructure proposals.
  • Ensuring that there is affordable housing for people was seen as an important element in building a sustainable regional economy.
Compact & Sustainable Communities
  • All sectors in the region need to work to make communities more compact - and more efficient. This should be encouraged through stronger regional growth management planning.
  • There are successful initiatives in other jurisdictions. Our plans need to reflect that we are implementing evidence of success from other sources.
  • Since housing costs can drive the "sprawl" it was suggested that ensuring the availability of affordable housing was one method of slowing undesirable attributes of growth.
Accepting Density
  • Increases in density concerned many of the participants. There is a need to work to find a densification formula that is acceptable to a significant regional constituency.
  • New approaches - such as the introduction of nodes of densification - were deemed by some to be more acceptable.
  • At the same time we need to be able to accommodate population growth which continues as a result of the booming economy.
Innovative Land Use Planning
  • The region is very livable - but it may not be fully sustainable in its current form.
  • The protection of agricultural land, transportation corridors, and industrial lands for their highest and best use should be a planning and zoning priority.
  • Managing current conflicts between agricultural and urban land use demands will be critical to future food security.
  • Incorporating new research into our planning to support the decision-making process was seen as an important consideration.
Goods Movement
  • There is still a need to move goods to and through the region from the port and airport in today's economy, but those needs may be in transition and require different infrastructure in the future.
  • It was suggested that the region's future will be bound up with the whole Cascadia - perhaps with only one international airport for that region.
More to come! Stay tuned!

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