[Update 5 pm, 14-June-2011: Day one went from 1 to 4 pm today. The first 40 minutes was spent deciding whether or not to permit cameras. The meeting ended at 5 pm, after hours of deep discussions. Best reason presented by RGS proponents was that so much work had gone into it so far. Not much talk about its merits. Meanwhile, Coquitlam side presented a very thoughtful presentation on the inconsistencies of land use designation across the region, and many other nuanced arguments. Next meeting is 1 pm Thursday. See below for more detail.] MetroVanWatch learned that Metro Vancouver and the City of Coquitlam have reached an agreement on the non-binding arbitration process for dispute resolution of Coquitlam’s serious concerns about the Regional Growth Strategy. Other than an obscure notice buried on its website, it appears that Metro Vancouver has made no public announcement on these meetings (in fact, let’s watch to see if and when Metro Vancouver even makes such an announcement–as of 11 on June 14, these meetings are not listed in the meeting schedule, and no public announcement or media release has been issued), but here below is information we have gleaned from various sources. (See official letter to municipalities Metro Van to Cities on RGS dispute 2-June-2011, plus our summary of the essential points about the process here). Our detailed coverage of Coquitlam’s objections is here.
Initial meetings (both open to the public) for Metro Vancouver vs Coquitlam dispute resolution process on the Regional Growth Strategy:
- June 14, 2011 (Tuesday), 1 to 5 pm, at Coquitlam Council Chambers, 3000 Guildford Way, Coquitlam. Here, Coquitlam will present its case. A very important meeting.
- June 16, 2011 (Thursday), 1 to 5 pm, at Metro Vancouver Board Room, 4330 Kingsway, Burnaby
MetroVanWatch comment: We believe the RGS is an extremely important document. It is a legally-binding bylaw. If enacted it will have a major impact on land use decisions, the lives of citizens, household and civic finances, citizen access to decision-making, and sustainability of this region. It gives increasing power to an unelected board. It got this far with what we believe is a flawed process, with a serious lack of meaningful public consultation, especially at the critical final stages when the real details took shape. We encourage the highest possible level of oversight of this arbitration process — by the public, by the media, and by elected officials in the region (the majority of whom probably do not receive full reporting from the Metro Vancouver Board). Our website documents how Metro Vancouver staff and certain elected officials have unfairly ignored public input and even blocked public involvement in RGS discussions since the autumn of 2010. This dispute resolution process is the last chance for the public to see what is going on. Metro Vancouver Mayors and Councillors and citizens, the process used to get the RGS here is not one our society can be proud of to create a 30-year strategy for our region. The November 2011 civic elections should not be a reason to force the RGS through. Let’s do it right, take the required time, and create something we and the next generation will accept and be proud of.
Other important upcoming meetings at Metro Vancouver include:
- Regional Planning Committee (June 17)
- Mayors’ Committee (June 22)
- Metro Van Board (June 24)
Also of note, TransLink’s revised articles enter into effect today, June 13, 2011, giving the TransLink Board Chair the sole power to determine what is confidential in Board meetings. Under the RGS, TransLink is treated as an “affected local government” and sits on the Metro Board with Mayors from the region. TransLink will also have a greater role in rezoning along major transportation routes.
As we enter campaigning season for the November 2011 civic election, we hope that some candidates for municipal mayors and councillors will carefully study the governance model of Metro Vancouver and call for reforms. One major change needed is that all Board meetings should have live video streaming and video archiving. Another change is to improve the reporting system from Board members back to their own municipal councils and citizens (at present, we know that critical information does not filter back from the Metro Vancouver board members to their own Councils, and vice versa, and this was also the case during critical negotiations on the RGS).