Amid key staff retirements and firings, outgoing industry executive calls for a revisit of Metro Vancouver Regional Growth Strategy

Business in Vancouver today (Glen Korstrom June 26, 2012) today carries a story entitled “Executive ouster sparks calls to revisit regional growth strategy.”

This is a big surprise, and it comes with many details not widely known by the public and civic watchers, including mention of recent dismissals and retirements from key regional planning jobs, and the industry stance on the RGS.

It is interesting and dramatic that outgoing head of the development industry’s Urban Development Institute, Maureen Enser, is making a high-profile call to revisit the RGS at this time. But the industry’s reason is to further streamline developments.

For different reasons, MetroVanWatch was opposing the passage of the RGS bylaw in 2011, due in part to the virtual secrecy of negotiations at the final stages, the huge implications of adopting such major land-use legislation with so little public oversight, and the threats to green space and agricultural land. Each municipality now has about 12 months remaining to adopt a Regional Context Statement with detailed land-use plans that are required to comply with the RGS. Municipal planning departments, including Vancouver’s are currently working on the details of the RCS — again in virtual secrecy. Watch for these to be quietly announced and adopted by municipalities in the coming months.

Besides Enser, who retires after 30 years with UDI, another retiree is the Metro Vancouver chief administrative officer (Johnny Carline) retired in February 2012 after stickhandling the RGS through to adoption. MetroVanWatch had trouble with his performance as a public servant in 2010 and 2011, when he incorrectly claimed that BC legislation prevented the public from communicating with elected officials. (He is now enjoying his retirement, having earned $343,651 in 2011; ref. Vancouver Courier, June 22, 2012, p. A6) The article also mentions the high-profile firing of City of Vancouver’s former director of planning (Brent Toderian), Metro Vancouver’s firing of its division manager for regional development (Christina DeMarco) — both of whom were key players in the development of the RGS — as well as TransLink terminating its executive vice-president of policy and planning (Michael Shiffer) and its manager of transportation and land use (Greg Yeomans). TransLink is considered an “affected local government” under the RGS, yet its board is politically appointed in Victoria and no live or archived video recordings are taken of it board meetings for public scrutiny.

Replacements for the above positions are still being sought, reportedly.

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