Thursday, June 12, 2014

Progress report on Metro Vancouver's Regional Growth Strategy

Metro Vancouver’s Regional Growth Strategy is meant to guide the development of our region. The provincial government requires our region to have a growth strategy. The strategy has five main goals: create a compact urban area, support a sustainable economy, protect the environment and respond to climate change impacts, develop complete communities, and support sustainable transportation choice. Each municipality’s official community plan in Metro Vancouver must reflect the goals of the regional growth strategy.

Besides outlining the vision for the region, the growth strategy also explains how the strategy will be implemented and monitored. As part of the monitoring requirements, Metro Vancouver is currently working on its first annual progress report on the regional growth strategy. The progress report contains performance indicators for the last two years, using 2011 as a baseline. While the report has yet to be released, some preliminary information was made available through a presentation delivered to the Metro Vancouver’s Regional Planning and Agriculture Committee last week.

One of the interesting facts is that out of the 20 municipalities, treaty First Nations, UBC, and the University Endowment Lands, only the Township of Langley has not had its regional context statements approved by Metro Vancouver. Regional context statements show how a municipality’s official community plan supports the goals of the regional growth strategy. Is the Township becoming a lone wolf in the region?

Since 2011, there is more agricultural, conservation, and recreation land in the region which is good news. One of the goals of the growth strategy is to protect the industrial land base, but since 2011 there has been a loss of 60 hectares.

Regional land use designation changes, 2011-2013. Select table to enlarge.

Between 2011 and 2013, the top five highest growth communities have been:

Surrey with a population increase of 20,900;
Vancouver with a population increase of 12,500;
Richmond with a population increase of 8,700;
Coquitlam with a population increase of 7,200; and
Langley Township with a population increase of 5,300

Surrey is where close to one-third of region's growth will occur, so it is important that this community grows in a sustainable fashion. Surrey’s slogan is “the future lives here” and that is the truth.

One of the things that some people say is that there is no more land for development in our region, using this as an excuse to develop on farmland. This is simply not the case, in 2011 there was 7,900 hectares of land that could be developed within our region’s urban containment boundary. Between 2011 and 2013, 235 hectares or 3% of that 7,900 hectares was developed.

Established and remaining urban lands within the Urban Containment Boundary, 2011. Select map to enlarge.

Currently 55% of our region’s population has access to frequent transit service. This means 15 minute or better transit service, most of the day. As shown in the following table, almost all of Vancouver and most of Burnaby have access to frequent transit.

Access to the frequent transit by municipality, 2011. Select table to enlarge.

In Surrey, only 40% of the population has access to frequent transit service. As Surrey is the faster growing municipality in the region, it is imperative that more high quality transit service be delivered to that community.

Areas of Metro Vancouver within walking distance of the frequent transit, 2011. Select map to enlarge.

The full progress report should be available this fall.

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