Tuesday, February 21, 2023

Regional Growth Strategy Performance Review: Concentrated Residential Growth, Sprawling Jobs

As local governments, we create plans and strategies to guide our work. Without measurements, it is next to impossible to see if a plan or strategy is working. For Metro Vancouver’s Regional Growth Strategy, the regional district completes an annual interactive performance report which is available on its website. I wanted to highlight some trends from the most recent annual performance report.

Map of the Urban Growth Boundary, Urban Centres, and Transit Corridors. Select the map to enlarge.

Over the last decade, Metro Vancouver’s Urban Containment Boundary has remained relatively intact, with 98% of growth occurring within the boundary. The boundary protects rural lands from urban sprawl.

To support high-quality, frequent transit service, one of the long-standing goals of the region is to concentrate growth within urban centres and along transit corridors. Regionally, local governments have done a good job of focusing the development of residential housing within these centres, but have done a poor job of concentrating jobs within these centres. The regional goal is to have 50% of job growth within urban centres, but to date, only 33% of job growth is within urban centres.

Metro Vancouver lost 1,640 hectares of sensitive and modified ecosystems between 2009 and 2014. The regional district will have updated data on this earlier this year. The regional district is not on track to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. There was only a 1% drop in GHG emissions between 2010 and 2020. Of course, GHG emission reduction requires strong policies from the provincial and federal governments.

On a positive note, more people are taking transit, walking, and cycling. About 55% of trips occur with one person occupied vehicles in our region. Half our region’s population is within easy walking distance of a frequent or rapid transit route.

The regional district expects more 2021 Census data to be available this year, allowing them to update many of the metrics they track for the regional growth strategy.

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