Province sends Metro back … (Cloverdale Reporter, 29-Apr-2011)

Province sends Metro back to talk with growth plan holdout (29-April-2011, Jeff Nagel for Cloverdale Reporter). Full article here.  Excerpts are below, with comments by MetroVanWatch.

Article: The province has rejected Metro Vancouver’s call to force a quick end to the impasse with the City of Coquitlam over the new regional growth plan that has been accepted by all other member cities. Instead of binding arbitration, Metro must follow a 60-day non-binding process to resolve the dispute with Coquitlam, starting by May 16.

Article: The new development master plan aims to focus new construction within an urban containment boundary so the region can take in a million more people over the next three decades without sacrificing farmland and green space.

[MetroVanWatch: The key word above is “aims.” We believe that the RGS’s stated aims may be as indicated here, but that the RGS will fail to meet those aims if implemented over the next 30 years, because (1) the maps and boundaries drawn in the bylaw ended up as a “shopping cart” of the wishes of the municipal planners (and others who influence planners)  who did the bulk of the detailed work of negotiating tradeoffs and compromises to dismantle and develop what were previously the “Green Zones,” and (2) the RGS brings in changes to the voting structure to create a lower threshold for voting on land use changes that allow development into the Green Zones and removes the citizens even further from land use decisions. (In effect, the RGS concentrates power into the Board of Directors of Metro Vancouver, who are not directly elected by the public for their positions there. On some land use decisions a simple majority of 50% plus one vote can decide, which put gives a considerable advantage to the four municipalities with the largest populations that get a weighted vote, and takes self-governance away from small municipalities.)]

Article: It also adds mechanisms to limit the loss of industrial land and replaces the outdated Livable Region Strategic Plan.

[MetroVanWatch: The LRSP in many ways was better. The LRSP had stronger regulatory protections of the Green Zones to prevent urban sprawl than the RGS. But the LRSP also functioned as a set of guidelines for development within urban areas that was left under municipal jurisdiction rather than creating another layer of regional bureaucratic regulatory legislation (i.e., the RGS bylaw). There should be no rush to adopt the RGS. Some of the flaws of the LRSP could be addressed in the meantime by special agreements on industrial land, etc.]

Article: Coquitlam Coun. Lou Sekora said the delays are the fault of the Metro board because it tried to “use a sledgehammer” against his city by seeking arbitration instead of immediately trying a more conciliatory approach.

[MetroVanWatch: We could not agree more. In fact, the “sledgehammer” approach is consistent with how Metro Vancouver dealt with citizens who expressed concerns about the RGS before, during, and after the limited public hearing process. The attitude promoted by Metro Vancouver staff does not bode well for citizens in the region, today and in the future.]

Article: The process has already consumed several years, three sets of consultations, dozens of public meetings and thousands of hours of staff time.

[MetroVanWatch: In the April 8, 2011 Board meeting, the main reason used by proponents of the “hammer” on Coquitlam (binding arbitration) was that so much effort had gone into the RGS so far. But we believe that effort was flawed for numerous reasons (important public input ignored, public consultation was mainly in early stages before the serious regulatory details were negotiated, and more). The issue is not the length of time spent but the quality of the effort and the product. ]

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