(Update 17-June-2011) Further below are excerpts of the March 22, 2011 letter from the City of Coquitlam (Coquitlam rejection of RGS 22-Mar-2011) to Metro Vancouver rejecting the Regional Growth Strategy and outlining reasons. Here we add Coquitlam’s submission to the dispute resolution process on 14-June-2011: Coquitlam-RGS_Brief, Metro Van, 14-June-2011
MetroVanWatch commentary (updated 17-June-2011): We believe that Coquitlam is the ONLY municipality to have held a town hall meeting for its own citizens after the text of the RGS was finalized. Even if just for this reason alone, Coquitlam’s objections deserve careful attention: It appears that Coquitlam has made the best effort of all municipalities to protect the public interest, which should be the first duty of all elected officials and public servants. We also recognize that Coquitlam citizens’ groups deserve some credit for proactively engaging their council on these issues. For example, Coquitlam Council Watch (http://www.facebook.com/pages/COQUITLAM-COUNCIL-WATCH/297770140764?sk=info).In contrast, despite citizen requests, the City of Vancouver (which holds by far the largest weighted vote on the Metro Board) did not even hold an explanatory meeting of the final text of the RGS for its own citizens or hear comments, and did not seek for a public hearing to be located on Vancouver soil. Public awareness of the very existence of the RGS was virtually nil. Many other municipalities rushed the RGS quietly through Council. In several municipalities, Councillors voted against the RGS, articulating serious and strong reasons, but in all but Coquitlam, the RGS was accepted (Port Moody is one special case).
Here below, we have retyped excerpts from the text from Coquitlam’s letter outlining (1) issues and (2) reasons for rejection of the RGS. The text comes from part of the full agenda for the April 7, 2011 Metro board meeting, which is available online at http://www.metrovancouver.org/ under the menu for board meetings.
Excerpt, 22-March-2011 letter from Coquitlam to Metro Vancouver (Coquitlam rejection of RGS 22-Mar-2011)
1. Extent of Metro Vancouver’s direct oversight and involvement in municipal land use planning and development approval processes…The RGS includes an increased level of control and detail that impacts land use planning and development approval processes, and confers a more direct and pervasive role for Metro Vancouver in overseeing local government decisions. Furthermore, the level of detail included in both the descriptions of the proposed land use designations and in associated maps (specifically Maps 2, 4, 6 and 8) exceeds the requirements of a growth strategy that is primarily intended to deal with matters of regional significance.
2. Lack of details regarding the legal, administrative and financial cost implications for Metro Vancouver and member municipalities arising from implementation of the RGS, including expansion of Metro Vancouver’s role in land use planning….Detailed information has not been provided regarding the anticipated resources and costs to implement, monitor or maintain the plan, or to process amendments. In order to ensure fairness and consistency in implementation, financial information is necessary about anticipated resource needs and costs to support the implementation of the plan along with a schedule of proposed processing fees.
3. Lack of clarity concerning the proposed dispute resolution processes…The RGS does not clearly explain or provide examples of how different types of dispute between Metro Vancouver and its member municipalities would be dealt with, nor does it provide suggested timelines for the resolution of disputes. Further, as part of such processes it is unclear how member municipalities, RGS amendment application proponents, interest groups or the public would approach or provide input to Metro Vancouver other than through public hearing processes on certain RGS amendments. Finally, the process and timeline implication for the Metro Vancouver Board and municipal Councils dealing with development proposals impacted by the RGS are not clear in the proposed bylaw.
4. Need for greater consistency in the application and administration of land use designations across Metro Vancouver…The RGS contains significant inconsistencies in the application and administration of Metro Vancouver’s land use designations and mapping across the region. For example, there are variations in the designation of industrial and Mixed Employment lands from municipality to municipality. The designation of golf course lands also varies across the region as some are designated Conservation and Recreation lands while in some municipalities these elands are designated General Urban or Agricultural or Rural. Furthermore, the designation of Special Study Areas and Sewerage Extension Areas in some municipalities is inconsistent with the RGS policies to protect Agricultural, Conservation and Recreation, and Rural lands from development.
5. Lack of a clear definition of land uses/activities which are deemed “regionally significant.” … The proposed RGS does not provide a clear explanation of “regionally significant” land uses/activities, nor does it define what is meant by “regional significance,” as opposed to those that would be considered locally significant. Furthermore, it does not explain how “regionally significant” vs. locally significant interests should be distinguished or how dispute related to these interests should be resolved.
… Request that a facilitator be appointed by the Province …. to monitor and support discussions between Metro Vancouver and the City of Coquitlam to address the City’s objections to the proposed RGS.
[MetroVanWatch comment: Note that Coquitlam sought a neighbourly and amicable approach to dispute resolution – by talking about the issues. The Metro Board voted almost unanimously to use a hammer (binding arbitration), but thankfully, the ruling Minister Ida Chong chose non-binding arbitration, instructed the parties to hold meetings open to the public and to report back (not necessarily have a resolution) by June 30, 2011. ]