Wednesday, February 3, 2021

Metro Vancouver looking to make it harder to convert industrial land to other purposes

Generally, there is a strong desire for both property owners and municipalities to derive the most amount of economic potential from land. This desire has resulted in industrial land being converted into mixed-used neighbourhoods with ground-floor retail and offices or apartment above in Vancouver. In the Fraser Valley, this has resulted in the conversion of farmland into housing.

People recognize that maximizing the economic potential of land is not always in the best interest of society.

Way back, people recognized the value of parks and conservation lands. These protected areas preserve important ecosystems which also helps to improve human health. People realized that land provides critical food services in the mid-1970s. The provincial government created the Agricultural Land Reserve to ensure food security for our province.

Today, we recognize the value of protecting industrial lands that sustain manufacturing, logicists, and high-tech jobs. Industrial lands also support our region as one of the largest ports in North America.

All municipalities in Metro Vancouver must abided by the Regional Growth Strategy. The policies in the strategy are self-imposed by municipalities in our region. It helps ensure that we are all looking out for the best interests of the region, and not just one municipality.

Industrial land in Langley City.

While parks, conversation, agriculture, and rural lands have strong protections, the same cannot be said for industrial land. Today, to convert industrial land to other purposes, a municipality must get 50% + 1 of a weight voted by the Metro Vancouver Board. This weighted vote means people representing at least 50% of our region's population must approve.

The Metro Vancouver Board is now considering increasing the threshold to 2/3rds of a weighted vote to convert industrial land to other purposes.

This proposed policy change will help preserve industrial land, a priority in our region as it is a limited resource.

Langley City has a significant amount of industrial land in the area northwest of 56th Avenue and 200th Street, and Duncan Way. I know that both council and staff support protecting industrial land. This protection is reflected in our draft updated Official Community Plan.

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