On behalf of Arrowsmith Parks and Land-Use Council
Some councillors and at least one newspaper have turned this issue into a battle between governments – regional government versus municipal government. They have created a straw man to throw the electors off the real issue – good planning.
The matter before us is
- about trying to exercise good planning
- following good implementation processes for approved and accepted plans
- and showing respect for those planning documents.
The boundary expansion proposal as I currently understand it, is a major plan issue. Many different parcels and potential land uses are involved. This is unlike a proposal for a specific parcel coming from an owner sitting just beside the boundary who has good reasons to allow it to join with the developed, urban community. This matter is the type that is based on understanding the demand for developable land over lets say the next 25 years. What are the projections for population growth? – changes in transportation? – changes in forms of housing? Where are the “big” detailed reports?
All land use changes have the potential to create winners and losers. Most of the time existing owners of land outside an urban containment boundary become winners if the boundary expands to include their property. Some may perceive this as losing because higher property values may result in higher property taxes. All property owners affected by a boundary move should be given an opportunity to express their views.
Applications to change land-use designations often create mechanisms for local government to obtain amenities for the community that it might not otherwise be able to afford. When the Town changes land-use on a blanket basis, benefits accrue to newly included property owners and costs accrue to the Town or all property owners throughout the Town. This may have benefits for everyone in town (some talk about preventing the death of a town) but is of such complexity that all should be given a chance to understand the consequences and in a democratic fashion be given a chance to voice their opinion.
All governments, regional and municipal, in the RDN after the 1997 and 2005 editions of the Regional Growth Strategy signed a separate agreement on how they would handle amendments to their respective Containment Boundaries during the term of the RGS – they were called Urban Containment Implementation Agreement. A mechanism was written into the 2011 RGS and no separate agreement was signed. It is my view the pattern had been set that the participants would meet relatively strict requirements to justify repositioning of a containment boundary through an amendment process – during the term of the RGS. This is the condition we find ourselves in now.
We need to follow the amendment process laid out in the current RGS. I am led to believe that Sections 1.2 and 1.5 of the current RGS apply.
It is my opinion that relocating the Qualicum Beach Containment Boundary to be coincident with the Town limits would be a significant exercise and contrary to the process put forth by town staff would have to follow the major (not minor) amendment process laid out for changing the RGS. If nothing else such a process must fully respect the intent of previous implementation agreements and the planning documents that are currently in force.
‘Growth Containment Boundaries’ were formerly referred to as ‘Urban Containment Boundaries’ in the 2003 RGS.
Page 27, Current Regional Growth Strategy for Regional District of Nanaimo