Back at the beginning of October, I wrote a post titled “The End of the Region as we know it?” – with a question mark.
It’s time to remove the question mark.
Metro Vancouver, with its origins in a vision crafted a half century ago – Cities in a Sea of Green – is being dismantled by the provincial government.
First, the end of transit expansion. Even if the referendum proceeds, even if it passes (which is doubtful), it will likely be crafted in such a way as to provide only the minimum that can be supported – nothing like what is needed to realize a Compact Region of Complete Communities, joined by Rapid Transit, supported by a Frequent Transit Network: the essence of the regional plan.
Second, the Province is doubling down on Motordom, spending billions to build over-scaled infrastructure to open up South of the Fraser and locking it into car-dependence. I make the Connections here: “The road to hell is paved.”
Third, it is doubling down on risk with respect to climate change. The Massey Crossing will accelerate growth on some of the most vulnerable lands to sea-level rise in Canada: wetlands, farmlands, lowlands, in order to make the west-coast a major carbon-transfer point for coal, oil, bitumen and natural gas. Any pretense that the regional strategy of sustainability, economically or environmentally, matters at all would be washed away in hypocrisy and carbon.
All that is needed, finally, is to dismantle the Agricultural Land Reserve.
And so, fourth: ‘Sacrosanct’ Agricultural Land Commission eyed for breakup – in today’s Globe and Mail.
British Columbia’s “sacrosanct” Agricultural Land Commission will be effectively dismantled and the B.C. Oil and Gas Commission will assume new responsibilities for land use decisions if a proposal prepared for cabinet is adopted, according to confidential government documents.
Information obtained by The Globe and Mail shows that B.C. Agriculture Minister Pat Pimm is preparing to ask cabinet to endorse a plan to “modernize” the ALC, an independent Crown agency, which has overseen and protected about four million hectares of farmland for 40 years. Under the plan, the ALC – long a thorn in the side of developers who want to free up farmland – would move within the Ministry of Agriculture, apparently ending its autonomy from government. …
“The Agricultural Land Commission legislative mandate is too narrow to allow decisions that align with the priority for economic development,” is the message Mr. Pimm will deliver, according to a document labelled Cabinet Decision Summary Sheet.
The document provides a point-by-point description of the steps Mr. Pimm wants to take. It calls on cabinet to allow him to “develop the necessary policy, regulatory and legislative amendments” he needs to implement dramatic change. …
Mr. Pimm spent 25 years working in the oil and gas industry before being elected to the provincial legislature. His appointment by Premier Christy Clark as Agriculture Minister was seen as an early sign the Liberal government didn’t want the ALC to hinder energy resource development.
Mr. Pimm is also proposing to give local governments more control, calling for “community growth applications [to be] decided by local governments.”
The ALC was established in 1974 as concerns grew in B.C. about the 6,000 hectares a year of prime agricultural land then being lost to development. Now about 500 hectares are removed annually. …
The provincial direction is clear; the regional vision is irrelevant. Soon the regional plan may be dead.
The question now is whether the generation that inherited this vision and its benefits cares enough to fight to save it.