Metro Vancouver CAO, Chair reject invitation/request for public dialogue on Regional Context Statements / Regional Growth Strategy

MetroVanWatch holds the view the public in the Metro Vancouver region was not properly informed of the existence, nature, and importance of the Regional Growth Strategy, a powerful land-use bylaw with a time horizon to 2040, adopted by the Board of Directors of the GVRD in July 2011. Similarly, we believe that there have been serious shortcomings in public engagement regarding the Regional Context Statements (which will also be Official Development Plans) in each municipality, which are preparing to submit their RCSs by July 29 this year.

On April 12, MetroVanWatch wrote to the Metro Vancouver Chief Administrative Officer Carol Mason and Board Chair Greg Moore inviting Metro Vancouver to support dialogue by accepting an invitation to send senior personnel to explain the RGS and RCS at a public meeting — this format is more meaningful for some people who wish to have more than drop-in events with panel displays, and who want a smart presentation followed by clarification of facts, and public discussion. After several reminders to them and attempts to get a response through other senior staff, on May 1, we received a rejection written by Ms.Delia Laglagaron,  Deputy CAO / General Manager, Planning, Policy and Environment Department.

Though she does provide some useful information, we challenge some of the statements made by Ms. Laglagaron and will follow up in due course. We still hope that Metro Vancouver will demonstrate its willingness to communicate with residents in the region by an event we hope to organize in the future. Officials often speak at industry-organized events and go out to make presentations on a wide range of topics. Why not speak at a citizen-initiated event regarding the long-term land use plan for the region?

Of special note, we have indeed been able to confirm that “There are no provisions in the Act setting out penalties or consequences for failure to submit an RCS on time.” Citizens who feel their municipality has not consulted adequately or in good faith might wish to speak to their elected officials and call for an extension of submission of the RCS to Metro Vancouver.

LETTER FROM MetroVanWatch to Metro Vancouver

12 April 2013

Mr. Greg Moore, Chair, Board of Directors
Ms. Carol Mason, Chief Administrative Officer
Metro Vancouver (GVRD)

Dear Mr. Moore and Ms. Mason,

Through MetroVanWatch, I am writing to suggest that Metro Vancouver organize at least three public information meetings in different locations during the months of May or June 2013 on the topics of the “Metro Vancouver’s Regional Growth Strategy and Municipalities’ Regional Context Statements.”

In the event you are unable to do so, please consider this a request and invitation for Metro Vancouver’s participation in one event organized by MetroVanWatch in June on the same topics.

The timing is important, as it is our understanding that under the requirements of Metro Vancouver’s “Regional Growth Strategy” (RGS), all local governments in the region must adopt a detailed “Regional Context Statement” (RCS) before July 29 this year. Considering their scope of influence and time window of thirty years, they could be described as the most important land use policy documents ever created at the regional and municipal levels, respectively.

We believe that public awareness and understanding of the RGS and RCS is low, and believe that Metro Vancouver has the capacity and obligation to provide more information publicly in a timely way, and in a meaningful format.

The proposed meeting flow is as follows:

  1. Metro Vancouver staff presentation on the Regional Growth Strategy and Regional Context Statements, and related policies/initiatives – including context, process, implications, current status, content, prospects. More than one presenter is welcome. It would also be useful to have staff present a summary chart showing the current state of RCS adoption in the 24 local governments. About 40 minutes
  2. Commentary or small panel – Land use policy experts to provide independent perspective. About 20 minutes
  3. Q&A session, moderated discussion. About 90 minutes

We are not aware of any presentations or reports by Metro Vancouver, aimed at the public, specifically on these topics since the RGS was ratified in 2011, and have not heard of any such plans for the future. As you know, about two months before the Board adopted the text of the RGS (January 2011), Metro Vancouver held public hearings in three or four communities (none were held in Vancouver, so we hope that one venue this time would be there). Could Metro Vancouver follow the same pattern of holding meetings in multiple locations?

It time does not permit Metro Vancouver to organize such meetings in May or June 2013, please consider the following to be a formal request and invitation.

MetroVanWatch invites Metro Vancouver to participate and cooperate by providing personnel to make a presentation in order to ensure that the public receives correct and timely information on the Regional Growth Strategy and Regional Context Statements. We propose the meeting for June 2013. To keep the meeting to a manageable size, we envision an audience of about 100-150 people, and to ensure that timing constraints do not preclude Metro Vancouver involvement, we leave it open to you to propose preferred dates and times. We believe, though, that a weekday evening, or any time on weekends, would enable more people to come. Once possible dates and times are agreed upon, MetroVanWatch will secure a venue and make all arrangements at our own cost. We would invite citizens from across the region to a relatively central location.

Metro Vancouver participation in the proposed MetroVanWatch event would be a great service to the public, and would enhance public understanding in our regional government and municipal government systems. We are committed informative, respectful public discussion on planning and the future of Vancouver, and are certain that the above meeting(s) would enhance communication on all sides.

We look forward to your reply at your earliest convenience, including willingness to organize your own meetings, or to participate in our meeting in June, and preferred dates, as well as any other matters you wish to clarify. To allow time for organizing, we would appreciate an early response.

Sincerely,
Randy Helten
Coordinator, MetroVanWatch

***********************

RESPONSE FROM METRO VANCOUVER to MetroVanWatch

May 1, 2013

Dear Mr. Helten:

Re: Metro Vancouver Regional Growth Strategy — Regional Context Statements
I am responding to your April 12, 2013 letter to Metro Vancouver Chair Greg Moore and Metro Vancouver CAO Carol Mason. MetroVanWatch invited Metro Vancouver to participate in a proposed public event and also seeks a response about public consultation for municipal Regional Context Statements (RCS) being prepared for the Metro Vancouver Regional Growth Strategy (RGS).

The Regional Growth Strategy was adopted on July 29, 2011 by the Metro Vancouver Board, after working closely over a number of years with member municipalities, government agencies, the public, industry, and other stakeholders. The Regional Growth Strategy’s goals, strategies, policies, and land use designations were developed through an open and cooperative process and the RGS reflects significant input from these different groups. The RGS provides a collective long term vision for the sustainable growth of the region.

As required under the Local Government Act, member municipalities must submit to Metro Vancouver a Regional Context Statement within two years of adoption of the RGS, which is by July 29, 2013. There are no provisions in the Act setting out penalties or consequences for failure to submit an RCS on time. Regional Context Statements are prepared by municipalities and reflect local context and identify the relationship between the Official Community Plan (or equivalent in the case of the City of Vancouver) and the Regional Growth Strategy. Once the municipal Regional Context Statements are prepared and submitted, they will be reviewed by Metro Vancouver staff and considered by the Metro Vancouver Board for acceptance. 

Member municipalities are responsible for preparing their Regional Context Statement, and conducting any associated public consultation process. As the RCS forms a part of the Official Community Plan, it must be adopted by bylaw by the municipal council which includes a public hearing. Municipal public engagement happens with any OCP policy changes at the local level. Metro Vancouver is not in a position to comment on municipal public engagement processes for OCPs or RCSs.

Consideration of Regional Context Statements acceptances and of Regional Growth Strategy amendments are by the Metro Vancouver Board in meetings open to the public with notification provided on the Metro Vancouver website as well as other means. Any public comments received during this period are provided to the Board for consideration. Specifically, for Type 2 RGS Amendments, this notification process includes a regional public hearing. 

Much information about the Regional Growth Strategy as well as the process to develop it can be found on our website, along with guidelines for implementing and amending the RGS and preparing Regional Context Statements. Decisions about the RGS are made by the Regional Planning & Agricufture Committee and the Metro Vancouver Board, with meeting agendas and minutes posted on the website.
http://www.metrovancouver.org/planning/development/strategy

Metro Vancouver held extensive public consultation during the development of the RGS.
Municipalities are now engaging the public in the preparation of Regional Context Statements. Accordingly, Metro Vancouver will not be hosting or participating in any additional public meetings as proposed in your letter.

I trust that this adequately responds to your enquiry. Please see our website for more information or contact Heather McNell, Regional Planning Division Manager… 

Yours truly,
Delia Laglagaron
Metro Vancouver
Deputy CAO / General Manager, Planning, Policy and Environment Department

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