Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Township of Langley looks to leave Metro Vancouver

I want to start off this post by saying that Metro Vancouver has nothing to do with TransLink or the provisioning of transit service in our region which I why I was shocked that the following motion from Councillor Kim Richter was referred to the Township of Langley Council Priority Meeting with a vote of 5-4.

Formation of a New South Fraser Regional District Whereas:
1. The fastest growing areas of population in BC are located south of the Fraser River, and these areas of high growth are historically and consistently underserviced in terms of key population needs such as transit, education, and healthcare;
2. The needs of the growing population living south of the Fraser River are significantly different than the needs of the population living in the traditional metropolitan areas of Metro Vancouver such as Vancouver and Burnaby;
3. The Metro Vancouver Board members cast weighted votes which favour the established metropolitan areas to the detriment of the high growth areas;
4. There is strength in numbers and the elected officials of the communities South of the Fraser need to band together to give maximum voice to the concerns and needs of the fast growing populations that they represent;
5. The Metro Vancouver Board is trying to use the Liveable Region Strategy to participate in zoning decisions made in member districts and this was never the scope, direction or intention of the Liveable Region Strategy; and
6. There is concern that the communities south of the Fraser no longer receive service value for tax dollar generated due to the inadequate service levels they receive.

Let's go over this motion.

Part 1 talks about transit, education, and healthcare. Metro Vancouver does not provide, nor does it fund any of these items.

Part 2 talks about value for money. Metro Vancouver spends $510m or 84% of its budget providing water, sewer, and solid waste services to the region. In fact all the water in our region comes from the North Shore Mountains. Over the last few years Metro Vancouver has invested close to 1 billion dollars to upgrade water services to accommodate our growing region. The majority of our sewer in the region gets treated at Annacis Island which has also seen massive upgrades. As there is no water available in the South of Fraser that would meet the needs of local residents, we would 100% still be getting our water and sewer services from Metro Vancouver. Heck, even Point Roberts in the USA gets water from Metro Vancouver! At best, there would be no saving and at worst Metro Vancouver could charge municipalities like the Township of Langley the higher “University Endowment Lands” rate for services. Let not forget that Abbotsford asked the Township of Langley to stop using its sewer system and the Township paid $23m to connect Aldergrove to Metro Vancouver’s sewer system. If Metro Vancouver is such a waste, why does Abbotsford continue to have Metro Vancouver look after some of its parks?

Part 3 is true, but any South of Fraser regional district would be dominated by Surrey. Surrey could and would overrule any other municipality in the proposed regional district that it didn't agree with. The Township might actually end up with less allies than it has being in Metro Vancouver.

I 100% agree with Part 4. The South of Fraser needs to speak with one voice to get its issues not just on the regional table, but the provincial table. Right now the biggest issue is with transit service and transit service is a Provincial issue.

Part 5 talks about regional planning and land use. I wrote an earlier post on regional land use, but basically there will always be a tension between local governments and regional land use, that is the point. A regional land use plan prevents the tragedy of the commons. As has been proven throughout North America without a regional land use plan that has teeth, sprawl will occur and green space will be eaten up. In fact, Metro Vancouver’s regional growth plan was spawned out of residents desire to protect our green space. I can’t think of any place in North America that has reduce sprawl that doesn’t have a regional land use plan.

Part 6 I don’t actually understand. Last time I checked every tap poured water, every toilet flushed, and garbage, recycling, and composite got picked up for anyone that is in Metro Vancouver’s service area. I would be curious to see what Metro Vancouver service isn’t being adequately provided in the Township of Langley.

If this motion was about TransLink I would understand, but leaving Metro Vancouver makes absolutely no sense and would just create yet another regional government in the Lower Mainland. In reality Metro Vancouver should go from the ocean to Abbotsford/Mission because we are one region.

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