A Tsawwassen resident says that Metro Vancouver’s proposed Regional Growth Strategy makes it easier for industrial development to occur at Southlands—formerly known as the Spetifore lands—even though it’s designated municipally for agricultural use.
In an interview with the Georgia Straight, Peter Duffey pointed to “Attachment B” in the Regional Growth Strategy, which describes “minor amendments”.
“They can be approved by a simple majority of one at the Metro Vancouver board without a public hearing,” Duffey noted.
Here’s how this relates to Southlands, which is more than 200 hectares of land in South Delta. For sites that are not within the Agricultural Land Reserve, the Metro Vancouver board may amend an agricultural-use designation to industrial use—if it’s contiguous with, or within, an urban containment boundary.
In the past, Southlands was in Metro Vancouver’s “green zone”, which meant its designation could not be changed without a regional public hearing.
The new Regional Growth Strategy, which was approved on January 14, has eliminated that requirement in connection with Southlands, according to Duffey’s analysis.
“I cannot see why an urban containment boundary can be changed by a simple vote of a minimum quorum of the Metro Board if this is for an industrial purpose and the land is contiguous with the urban containment boundary,” Duffey stated in a submission to Metro Vancouver. “Why is this not subject to the same 2/3 majority weighted vote as for all other UCB boundary changes? At no place in the lengthy RGS document is any explanation or justification of this.”
In a controversial move, the Social Credit government removed the Spetifore lands from the ALR in the 1980s, but the property retained its municipal agriculture designation.
Duffey told the Straight that as long as Southlands is not in the ALR, the Metro Vancouver board may allow industrial activities on this land because this would constitute a “minor amendment” under the bylaw.
Meanwhile, Delta’s chief administrative officer, George Harvie, has recommended to council that Southlands be returned to the ALR.
Tonight, Duffey plans to speak to Delta council in favour of Harvie’s recommendation. But he will also tell the municipal politicians that there is no guarantee that the Agricultural Land Commission will approve this request.
He plans to conclude his presentation with the following question: “Will you defer approval of the RGS bylaw until the RGS is amended to ensure a public hearing at Metro level is always held whenever any change to an urban containment boundary is proposed?”
The chair of Metro Vancouver, Lois Jackson, is also the mayor of Delta. Duffey suggested that these two roles—which both provide her with a full-time salary—put her in a conflict when the interests of Delta collide with the interests of Metro Vancouver