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Metro Vancouver Staff Misled Board in Critical Vote

Regional Growth Strategy Enables Urban Sprawl Up West Vancouver Mountains

by Randy Helten

West Van 3-D Showing 3 Contour Lines [Credit: David Flanders]
West Van 3-D Showing 3 Contour Lines [Credit: David Flanders]

(Vancouver, February 11, 2011) – Metro Vancouver (GVRD) staff provided incorrect information to Directors on 14 Jan 2011, just before the Board voted to adopt the Regional Growth Strategy and send it to 22 municipalities for ratification within 60 days. CityHallWatch has sent a letter to Metro Vancouver outlining the error and demanding a public correction, and will make a presentation to Metro Vancouver next week (Appendix A and B). The RGS is intended to replace the Livable Region Strategic Plan, and will have a major impact on critical land use decisions for the next thirty years if implemented.
CityHallWatch has confirmed with three independent specialists that the RGS could allow urban sprawl across the south face to the peak of West Vancouver mountains and possibly beyond, to boundaries of Cypress Park and the Capilano Watershed. These impacts are significantly contrary to staff replies to questions asked by the Board before the vote.
On Friday Feb. 18 at 9 am, a CityHallWatch delegation will appear before Metro Vancouver’s Regional Planning Committee (Metro offices) to defend our map depictions and demand that staff correct their misstatements on record.
Randy Helten, coordinator of CityHallWatch, says, “This misinformation raises a big question that elected officials should be asking right now, before their municipal Councils vote to accept the Regional Growth Strategy: If staff could be mistaken about this big of an issue, what other errors and problems are buried in a document as complex as the RGS?”


  • On Jan. 5, CityHallWatch publicly released maps and images showing the extent of potential development in West Vancouver’s North Shore Mountains, indicating what they could look like from Vancouver if the RGS is applied to the extent permitted by the text and maps in the RGS.
  • On Jan. 9, The Province carried a story featuring this information from CityHallWatch. The Mayor of West Vancouver dismissed the CityHallWatch information.
  • CityHallWatch also attempted to provide this information to elected officials in each municipality before the Board meeting, but under the direction of the Metro Vancouver Chair, staff attempted to prevent the public from contacting the officials and prevent officials from hearing from the public.
  • CityHallWatch held a media briefing and public meeting on Jan. 13, also inviting Metro Vancouver staff and all municipal elected officials in the region to discuss and clarify the matters. None attended.
  • At the Jan. 14 meeting, Metro staff misled Board members into believing that the proposed Urban Containment Boundary (UCB) in the RGS is approximately the same as the existing maximum development line of 1,200 feet, which in fact is not correct. The Urban Containment Boundary goes substantially higher, as confirmed by 3 specialists.
  • The Metro Vancouver vote of Jan. 14 may be invalid because it is based on the misinformation from staff. CityHallWatch is seeking a legal opinion on this matter.
  • Industry recognizes the importance of the RGS: The Urban Development Institute (UDI) writes: “The Regional Growth Strategy is the most important document Metro Vancouver has ever produced.” “The RGS will fundamentally affect how land use decisions are made going forward, who will be making them, and the development process as a whole.”

CityHallWatch believes that the RGS Bylaw should not proceed any further and that the many concerns raised in Public Hearings (Nov/Dec 2010 in only 4 locations) have not been addressed and resolved. Says coordinator Helten, “The Regional Growth Strategy as now written is not acceptable. A wise choice by elected officials would be to leave the Livable Region Strategic Plan in place until a better plan is proposed that addresses the many serious problems in the RGS.”
CityHallWatch and MetroVanWatch are new networks launched for citizens to better understand, discuss, and address major issues relating particularly to land use decisions and processes. Our goal is a socially, environmentally and agriculturally sustainable Metro Vancouver. We receive input from independent citizens and experts.

Contact: Randy Helten /

Appendix A available at:

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The thing that would probably be good with this forum is if you had the ability to subscribe to threads that you generate; Is this plausible?

Passing On

This suggestion is outside my technical competence. I'll pass it along to the VMC crew.

Do you mean discussion threads generated by your comment?

Hi Firoex8,

Could you clarify what you mean?

If you're referring to discussion threads that may result from a comment - as in this one (your comment, 2 replies) - then that is already built in in a way.

When I comment (and I'm not sure if one needs to have signed up for a free Media Coop account to have this option appear), right underneath this text box there is an option to click a "Notify me when new comments are posted" box. There is the option to choose "All comments" or just "Replies to my comment." Personally, when I want to follow a discussion that follows a VMC or other Media Coop post, I always choose "All comments," because often people will respond to a comment by writing in the comment text box that automatically shows up at the end of a post, as opposed to clicking the little "reply" button underneath a specific comment.

Notifications are sent to whichever email address is attached to a Media Coop account. I am not sure if the notifications option is possible without signing up for a free account, but maybe someone else knows and will comment.

If that's not what you were referring to, could you clarify your question?



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