Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Update: Progress report on Metro Vancouver's Regional Growth Strategy

Metro Vancouver’s Regional Growth Strategy focuses on five main goals: creating a compact urban area, supporting a sustainable economy, protecting the environment and responding to climate change impacts, developing complete communities, and supporting sustainable transportation choice. Embedded into the strategy is the requirement to report on the progress made towards meeting those goals.

Back in June, I posted about some of the preliminary data Metro Vancouver staff had complied comparing 2011 baseline information with 2013 information. This September, Metro Vancouver has released more data comparing 2011 to 2013.

Map of regional and municipal centres in Metro Vancouver. Source: Metro Vancouver

One of our region's goals is to cluster jobs and housing in larger regional centres, local municipal town centres, and along transit corridors. This helps create an accessible region, giving people transportation choice. It also helps protect farmland and reduces urban sprawl. Between 2011 and 2013, 42% of new office development occurred in urban centres. In total, a full 85% off all office development is in centres, and along rapid or frequent transit corridors.

2013 Office Inventory in Metro Vancouver. Source: Metro Vancouver

As I mentioned in June, 29 hectares of additional land was protected for agricultural use. In 2011, about 50% of total agricultural land was farmed, while 25% more had the potential to being farmed. One of the interesting things is that 25% of agricultural land cannot be farmed. This can be due to the land being used for “non-farm use” such as roads, golf courses, and even housing. Other land is just not suitable for farming. One of the big questions that needs to be answer in our region is what do we do with non-farmable land that is in the agricultural land reserve.

One of the things I hear from some people is that housing is unaffordable in our region because of the regional growth strategy. When looking at following table, this doesn’t appear to be the case. Calgary, which has a huge geographical footprint, has higher total housing costs than Vancouver. Toronto also has higher housing costs. It seems that higher housing costs have more to do with economic prosperity than anything else.

Comparison of housing affordability between Metro Vancouver, Toronto, and Calgary. Source: Metro Vancouver. Select graph to enlarge.

Between 2011 and 2013, 68% of all new housing units were apartments or row houses in Metro Vancouver.

There is other information that provides feedback on the progress towards the other goals contained in Metro Vancouver's Regional Growth Strategy in the presentation made earlier this month. Metro Vancouver staff is still working on complying more information. They are also looking into the best ways to make this information broadly available.

Looking at both the data released in June and the data released this month, it appears that our region is on track to meeting its goal of being a livable region.


Tim said...

Why doesn't Surrey have a defined area for urban core? It is not even there. The town centres are just shown as dots but Surrey City Centre is not shown at all.

Nathan Pachal said...

I can only imagine this is an omission as this is still in draft form.