Monday, March 18, 2013

Metro Vancouver and the Port

One of the documents that Metro Vancouver provides to municipalities in the region is called “Board in Brief”. This document provides a high level overview of the various actions that the region is taking. The most recent update was included in the City of Langley's Council Meeting Agenda for this evening. One of the interesting items in the brief was in relationship to Port Metro Vancouver and the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR).

As I’ve posted about previously, Port Metro Vancouver has been busy updating many of its long term plans including its land-use plan and plan for the proposed Terminal Two in Delta. One of the concerns about the Port is that it has no accountability to the region as it is a federal entity. The Port isn’t subject to the regional growth strategy for example. In fact the Port doesn’t even pay property tax to local government, but an in-lieu payment to be a “good citizen.” The full public consultation style that the Port uses on some of its plans are not required under federal law. Considering that we now have weak federal enviornment protection and the Port isn't subject to local laws, the Port can pretty much do whatever it wants on the land that it acquires and could approve projects that the region opposes.

This has the Metro Vancouver Board concerned especially when it comes to the ALR. According to the Board in Brief:

Metro Vancouver has expressed concerns regarding Port Metro Vancouver’s acquisition and use of Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) lands on several occasions in the past. Expansion of Port activities on designated agricultural land would undermine Metro Vancouver’s Regional Growth Strategy.

Metro Vancouver’s Board has sent a letter to the Port expressing their concerns, but the reality is that the Port could choose to ignore this letter.

I’m sure that everyone in the region, include Metro Vancouver, understands the important role that the Port plays in creating job in the region, but I wonder if the Port should be subject to the Regional Growth Strategy. Is it right for the Port to be able to remove land out of the ALR without due process?

Another federal entity that is not subject to the Regional Growth Strategy is the YVR Airport Authority, and they are trying to build an Outlet Mall on Airport Land which goes against the growth strategy. Besides removing land from the ALR, what would prevent the Port from doing a similar thing as YVR?

1 comment:

Frances Tang-Graham said...

Thanks for your thoughtful posts about Port Metro Vancouver, land use, and the wider region. We hope you continue to stay involved in the Port's Land Use Plan process and attend some of the events and activities we'll be planning for 2013. Please visit our website or PortTalk to get more information and ask us questions.

Frances Tang-Graham
The Land Use Plan Team at Port Metro Vancouver