Top 10 West Van news stories pegs Metro Vancouver RGS as #5

North Shore Outlook in its article “Top 10 West Van news stories” of 2011 put the Metro Vancouver Regional Growth Strategy as number 5. See article here

Summary of article highlights:

  • RGS had some West Van residents “up in arms” over what they felt was an opening of the door to development above Hollyburn Mountain’s 1200-foot mark.
  • The ramifications of the RGS, said concerned residents, is that the green zone would be open to recreational development. “I think this flies in the face of what West Van residents want,” said Paul Hundal, a West Van lawyer.
  • Bob Sokol, West Van’s director of planning, lands and permits said that a letter from Metro Vancouver says  “there is no reason the land has to be developed…”

MetroVanWatch comments:

  • CityHallWatch and MetroVanWatch made the news in early 2011 by releasing simulated images and statements showing what the view of the North Shore would look like if the area was built out over the next few decades to the maximum that could be permitted by future city councils.
  • Sokol says “there is no reason the land has to be developed.” Right. It doesn’t “have to” be developed. But current or future councils do have the power to approve development, and the RGS has cleared the way for that. This is just one example of the trickiness of the RGS.
  • Public scrutiny is going to be very important as each municipality moves quickly to adopt a regional context statement, which must now, by law, comply with the RGS.
  • In the summer of 2011, a MetroVanWatch colleague encouraged council to seek a change of the RGS designation for this area to “Conservation & Recreation.” In the end, they changed the zone the above 1200 foot line to “Special Study Area,” which is more friendly to future development.
  • It would easy for West Vancouver council to change the “special study area” designation to “general urban” to permit the development above the 1200-foot line. This is proved by the fact that they made the change in the other direction (general urban to special study area) with little fanfare in the fall of 2011. With reports release just days before a council meeting, the language being technical and difficult for non-experts to read, the elected officials could effectively make major changes with hardly anyone knowing. This is what the previous council has set up, and similar dynamics can now be acted out in any municipality, now that the Regional Growth Strategy has become law in the entire Metro Vancouver region.
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