Regional Context Statement: Planning Framework or Patchwork?

On June 11, 2013, Council approved the Regional Context Statement, a document prepared by staff that demonstrates how the city’s plans and policies support the goals of the Metro Vancouver Regional Growth Strategy. At the public hearing, the Vancouver City Planning Commission, represented by chair Peter Greenwell, made a statement  in support of adoption of the Regional Context Statement, and commended staff for the work of compiling more than 60 policies developed over the last 40 years.

Regional Context Statement: A Background

Unlike other BC municipalities, the City of Vancouver has no overarching policy document to which the Regional Context Statement can be linked. All other BC municipalities are required to have an Official Community Plan. These OCP’s include a Regional Context Statement linking their implementation to the Regional Growth Strategy.

The Commission’s statement noted that the Metro Vancouver website features CityPlan (1996) as Vancouver’s Official Community Plan. However, CityPlan was intended as “framework for decisions on City funding, programs, and actions,” and not a planning framework for the city. As such, it is not considered to be an Official Community Plan. Many of the values and goals in CityPlan have evolved considerably since the 1990s. This can be seen with environmental goals and actions recently adopted as the Greenest City 2020 Action Plan.

The staff report to Council referred to the Regional Context Statement as “a foundation for planning policy in the city” that could be “a useful tool to initiate a discussion about identifying and prioritizing future planning.” Noting that the current policy framework is a patchwork of many plans and policies developed over many decades, the Commission statement concluded by encouraging the exploration of an updated city-wide planning framework, “one that is accessible and transparent, retaining the best of our existing policies, while exploring new ideas and best practices in other cities.”

The Commission has explored the potential value for the city of a city wide plan for a several years. In 2010-2011, the Commission organized a multi-layered project focused on how Vancouver can evolve as a city that meets neighbourhood needs while advancing city-wide sustainability goals. In late 2011, after Council received a staff report outlining a concept and process for a new city-wide physical plan, the Commission invited a several prominent urbanists to offer early informed perspectives on this important topic.

More Information

City of Vancouver website: Public Hearing on Regional Context Statement June 11, 2013, including documents and video. Council approved the Statement for referral to the Metro Vancouver Board.

City of Vancouver website: Regional Context Statement as adopted by By-law No. 10789, September 24, 2013.

More Vancouver City Planning Commission statements commenting on current proposals relating to the future of the city.

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