Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Strengthening the regional growth strategy to support affordable housing, transportation, and childcare

Metro Vancouver is world-renowned for being a place that has been able to build walkable communities that are connected by high-quality transit while at the same time preserving our farmland and protecting sensitive ecosystems. Of course, our region also has its challenges. The opioid crisis that is killing people, and an affordable housing crisis that is making people homeless, are starting to be addressed with the support of the provincial and federal governments.

As I posted about recently, the Metro Vancouver Regional District is in the process of updating our regional growth strategy. This updated strategy will be call Metro 2050. As I learned about a few weeks ago, the updated growth strategy will address the matter of equity more fully than the current growth strategy. Equity includes affordable housing.

Map of current urban centres and frequent transit development areas. Select map to enlarge. Source: Metro Vancouver

As I noted earlier, the basics principle of our regional growth strategy has been to connect mixed-use, walkable town centres with high-quality transit. In the currently regional growth strategy, transit corridors that connect these centres were also given special attention as frequent transit development areas. These centres and corridors are where population and job growth in our region is meant to be focused.

The Metro Vancouver Regional District is considering the following refinements in the updated regional growth strategy to support the objects of building a walkable, transit-friendly, and affordable region.

Some of the measures being consider are:

  • Limiting areas within town centres and transit corridors for single-family housing, strip malls, big box, and office parks
  • Identifying locations to build affordable housing
  • Prioritizing transit service in town centres and corridors by creating bus-only lanes or queue-jumper lanes
  • Implementing measures to improve air quality, and reduce noise and vibration cause by motor vehicles near major roads
  • Implementing climate change mitigation strategies
  • Reducing on-site parking in new apartment buildings
  • Improving bicycle parking standards in all new buildings
  • Supporting the provision of more childcare spaces
  • Creating tenant protection and relocation polices

The updated regional growth strategy will require the approval of all municipal councils in our region as it is binding on them. Some of these measures may not make it into the final updated regional growth strategy, and other measures could be added.

I believe that most of these measures will help keep our region on the right track, and address some of the challenges around affordable transportation and housing that we are facing today.

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