Media release: Regional Growth Strategy being challenged in Councils this week, as citizens unfairly blocked again by Metro Vancouver

(Vancouver, February 21, 2011) Metro Vancouver continues to ram the Regional Growth Strategy through the acceptance process in 22 municipalities, despite challenges to its legality and factuality, and despite criticism of its undemocratic processes. The RGS is a very complex document with huge implications for the next 30 years and beyond in this region. MetroVanWatch is calling on municipal Councils to withhold approval of the RGS now and take more time to address its serious flaws by actual changes to the text.

Schedule

As best we have determined, here is the schedule of municipal councils deciding on the RGS:

  • Feb 21 (Mon): Belcarra (7:30 pm), Langley City (7 pm), Richmond (4 pm), West Vancouver (7 pm)
  • Feb 22 (Tue): Pitt Meadows (7 pm) Port Moody (7 pm)
  • Feb 28 (Mon): Langley Township
  • Mar 3 (Thu): Vancouver
  • Mar 7 (Mon): North Vancouver District, White Rock

Note: We still await dates from: Anmore, Burnaby, Coquitlam, New Westminster, North Vancouver City, Port Coquitlam, Surrey. Note that Maple Ridge discussed the RGS on Feb 14, and another date to be set for the decision. Municipalities that have already accepted the RGS include Delta (Feb 7) and Lions Bay (Jan 24).

Illegality of RGS (and threats to food security, farmland): Metro Vancouver ignored warning letters from the executive director and chair of the BC Agricultural Land Commission about its illegality even before the third reading of the bylaw on January 14, 2011. Analysis by West Coast Environmental Law has confirmed the illegality of the RGS due to conflicts with Agricultural Land Commission Act.
Promoting Urban Sprawl in West Vancouver: CityHallWatch has had three independent specialists verify that the RGS could permit urban sprawl all the way up the visible slope and over the ridges of Hollyburn Mountain in West Vancouver, and all of Eagleridge Bluffs, and possibly beyond, to the boundaries of Cypress Park and the Capilano Watershed. These impacts contradict Metro staff replies to questions asked by the Board before the vote on Jan. 14. CityHallWatch believes the Board voted on incorrect information.
Unfair and Undemocratic Processes: Metro Vancouver revoked approval for a delegation from CityHallWatch to present independent facts to the Regional Planning Committee on Feb. 18, to respond to the incorrect information presented by Metro Staff on Jan. 14. Committee Chair Derek Corrigan (Burnaby Mayor) stated “…we have no opportunity to hear from delegations. It’s simply not legally permitted for us to do that.” Our legal council has advised us that this statement is not correct, and that legislation does not explicitly prevent elected officials from hearing from the public in this situation. Our information was especially important to correct what staff told the Metro Board about the RGS impacts on West Vancouver. Only staff were allowed to address the committee on Feb 18, but still failed to provide the required facts.

Says MetroVanWatch coordinator Randy Helten, “Metro Vancouver is consistently acting like a bully. This should be a serious concern for everyone, because our municipalities are about to transfer a considerable amount of autonomy on land use decisions to the unelected bureaucracy of Metro Vancouver. Citizens should raise concerns with all their elected officials on the RGS right now, before it’s too late.”

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. MetroVanWatch.ca carries more information on each of the above topics.

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Contact: citizenYVR@gmail.com

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About cityhallwatch

Citizens concerned about public benefits arising from decisions at Vancouver's City Hall.
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