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Metro Vancouver Board voted with incorrect information: Regional Growth Strategy (RGS) DOES permit urban sprawl up West Vancouver mountains
(Vancouver, February 11, 2011) Metro Vancouver (GVRD) staff provided incorrect information to Directors on Jan. 14, just before the Board voted to adopt the Regional Growth Strategy and send it to 22 municipalities for ratification within 60 days. CityHallWatch has sent a letter to Metro Vancouver outlining the error and demanding a public correction, and will make a presentation to Metro Vancouver next week (Appendix A and B). The RGS is intended to replace the Livable Region Strategic Plan, and will have a major impact on critical land use decisions for the next thirty years if implemented.
CityHallWatch has confirmed with three independent specialists that the RGS could allow urban sprawl across the south face to the peak of West Vancouver mountains and possibly beyond, to boundaries of Cypress Park and the Capilano Watershed. These impacts are significantly contrary to staff replies to questions asked by the Board before the vote.
On Feb. 18 (Fri.) at 9 am, a CityHallWatch delegation will appear before Metro Vancouver’s Regional Planning Committee (Metro offices) to defend our map depictions and demand that staff correct their misstatements on record.
Randy Helten, coordinator of CityHallWatch, says, “This misinformation raises a big question that elected officials should be asking right now, before their municipal Councils vote to accept the Regional Growth Strategy: If staff could be mistaken about this big of an issue, what other errors and problems are buried in a document as complex as the RGS?”
- On Jan. 5, CityHallWatch publicly released maps and images showing the extent of potential development in West Vancouver’s North Shore Mountains, indicating what they could look like from Vancouver if the RGS is applied to the extent permitted by the text and maps in the RGS.
- On Jan. 9, The Province carried a story featuring this information from CityHallWatch. The Mayor of West Vancouver dismissed the CityHallWatch information.<http://www.theprovince.com/news/Protect+farmland+Metro+Vancouver+growth+plan+green+group+urges/4083410/story.html>
- CityHallWatch also attempted to provide this information to elected officials in each municipality before the Board meeting, but under the direction of the Metro Vancouver Chair, staff attempted to prevent the public from contacting the officials and prevent officials from hearing from the public.
- CityHallWatch held a media briefing and public meeting on Jan. 13, also inviting Metro Vancouver staff and all municipal elected officials in the region to discuss and clarify the matters. None attended.
- At the Jan. 14 meeting, Metro staff misled Board members into believing that the proposed Urban Containment Boundary (UCB) in the RGS is approximately the same as the existing maximum development line of 1,200 feet, which in fact is not correct. The Urban Containment Boundary goes substantially higher, as confirmed by 3 specialists.
- The Metro Vancouver vote of Jan. 14 may be invalid because it is based on the misinformation from staff. CityHallWatch is seeking a legal opinion on this matter.
- Industry recognizes the importance of the RGS. The Urban Development Institute (UDI) writes: “The Regional Growth Strategy is the most important document Metro Vancouver has ever produced.” “The RGS will fundamentally affect how land use decisions are made going forward, who will be making them, and the development process as a whole.”
CityHallWatch believes that the RGS Bylaw should not proceed any further and that the many concerns raised in Public Hearings (Nov/Dec 2010 in only 4 locations) have not been addressed and resolved. Says coordinator Helten, “The Regional Growth Strategy as now written is not acceptable. A wise choice by elected officials would be to leave the Livable Region Strategic Plan in place until a better plan is proposed that addresses the many serious problems in the RGS.”
CityHallWatch and MetroVanWatch are new networks launched for citizens to better understand, discuss, and address major issues relating particularly to land use decisions and processes. Our goal is a socially, environmentally and agriculturally sustainable Metro Vancouver. We receive input from independent citizens and experts.
February 8, 2011
Metro Vancouver Board, 4330 Kingsway, Burnaby, B.C. V5H 4G8
Re: Metro Vancouver Regional Growth Strategy Bylaw
This is an executive summary of the presentation I intend to make to the Regional Planning Committee on February 18, 2011, for inclusion in the agenda.
We have concerns about incorrect information that was presented by Metro staff to the Board on January 14, 2011 before the Board voted on acceptance of the Regional Growth Strategy Bylaw. I am asking the committee to acknowledge the error made by staff in the information presented to the Board so that the record can be corrected and so that Board members can be properly informed on the issues responded to by staff relating to the consequences of the Regional Growth Strategy on the slopes of West Vancouver.
When the Board was deliberating over its vote for the Regional Growth Strategy on January 14, 2011, the Director representing Bowen Island asked a very important question about the extent of the change of the Urban Containment Line on the highly visible slopes of West Vancouver. His question was …” does the urban containment boundary as it pertains to West Van, is it consistent with the current build-out limit which is the 1200 foot level”…
Regional Development Division Manager for Metro Vancouver, Christina DeMarco, answered by saying that on the concordance with that 1200 foot level… ” you can see the lines are not, don’t follow exactly to the contour lines but they are approximate to that… And the area under the special study area,… it’s definitely not for extensive future rural/urban.”
Attached please find images confirming the locations of the current line of 1200 feet elevation, the proposed RGS Urban Containment Boundary and Special Study Area (Figures 1 and 2). We also point out that the area below the Urban Containment Boundary is designated in the RGS as General Urban areas that “are intended for residential neighbourhoods and centres.” So what is depicted is what could be built based on RGS designation and existing development so far on the face of West Vancouver (Figure 3). This has been checked and confirmed through analysis by three different specialists, using three different software programs. They have all come to the same conclusion that the visual impact (not to mention other impacts) of this kind of expansion of the urban containment boundary would be significantly above the 1200 foot line covering most of the south face.
The Metro board members relied on the statements from staff to dismiss concerns raised by us and others about the impact of the new Urban Containment Line and to attack landscape depictions and maps outlining the impact. We can prove that staff’s response was completely in error, to such an extent that the Board members were seriously misled by staff, even if innocently. We seek to correct the public record so that the Board members have the correct information.
Attachment: David Flanders, DPI Territorial Consulting, verifying mapping image on land use proposal in West Vancouver, 7-Feb-2011 (filename West Van map comment, Flanders, DPI Territ, 7-Feb-2011)
Figure 1. Map of West Vancouver region showing 1,200 foot (360 meter) contour line, the proposed Urban Containment Boundary, and Special Study Areas (Source: David Flanders).
Figure 2. 3D landscape model of West Vancouver region showing 1,200 foot ( 360 meter) contour line (white), the upper extent of the proposed Urban Containment Boundary (orange), and the upper extent of the Special Study Areas (red) (Source: David Flanders).
Figure 3. Photo simulation by Stephen Bohus showing a hypothetical development scenario in West Vancouver region based on development similar to what is already constructed in the British Properties (Source: Stephen Bohus).
Contact citizenYVR@gmail.com for Appendix B