Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Metro Vancouver Planning

There has also been an us-verse-them thing when it comes to the communities in Metro Vancouver for a long time. Usually it goes the Burrard Peninsula municipalities verse the South of the Fraser municipalities. When it comes to land use planning it usually goes that the people in the South Fraser accuse those on “the other side of the bridge” of trying to limit development for their own gain, while people that “never go over the bridge” accuse the South Fraser of having no other plan but to see every inch of land turned into big box stores, single family homes, and freeways. There is truth to everything, but these arguments seem to be political more than anything else. My favourite one-liner between a South Fraser politician and a Vancouver politician is “How is preserving your ALR and Industrial Land going?” With that background in mind, I want to take a look at what’s new in Metro Vancouver planning.

As you may know, Metro Vancouver is working on updating our regional growth policy. As part of that review, they are looking at tools to play a stronger role in regional planning. Two of the new tools they are looking at are regional zoning and a more accurate mapping system for this new zoning.

Metro Portland, Portland's elected regional government, is involved in land use planning. It looks like Metro Vancouver is basing their regional zoning on the Portland model. Metro Vancouver would like to see an Urban Zone, Industrial Zone, Rural Zone, and Green Zone. Defining and mapping Green Zone Land will be the topic of another post, but having a Green Zone of ALR land and protected areas doesn’t seem to be an issue. Protecting industrial land from business parks and/or residential development doesn’t seem to be an issue either. Of course (almost) everything else would be in the Urban Zone, so that's not much of an issue either. The major issue comes from the proposed rural zone. The rural zone would define a set development standards that would be different from the urban zone. This would basically take away land use planning from the municipalities and place it into the hands of Metro Vancouver. The rural zoning would really only affect communities like Surrey, Langley Township, and Maple Ridge that have rural land that is not in the ALR. This seems unfair. The major fear that is Metro Vancouver could arbitrarily define the areas that are rural and urban, and arbitrarily define what is urban and rural. There is much work to be done, and I’m sure this policy will be refined as it comes closer to completion. I believe that we need to protect open space that is neither ALR nor environmental sensitive, and I’ll be talking about that on my next post.

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