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Metro Vancouver’s Board of Directors today adopted a new Regional Growth Strategy that aims to guide development in the region over the next three decades in a way that enhances the livability of the region while contributing to the overall sustainability of the region’s development.Twenty municipal councils, the Tsawwassen First Nation, TransLink and two adjacent regional districts – the Fraser Valley and Squamish-Lillooet Regional Districts – have all formally accepted the Strategy. “Achieving unanimous support from 24 affected local governments is a very high bar,” said Lois. E. Jackson, Chair of Metro Vancouver’s Board of Directors.“I don’t know any other jurisdiction that requires that level of support. The fact that this plan received that support is testimony to the quality of the plan and the efforts of all the many people who contributed to it. “It is a plan that supports the economy by providing enormous investment and development opportunities in urban centres and transit supported development areas; by protecting the supply of industrial land so critical to the economy and the role of the region as Canada’s pre-eminent gateway to the Pacific rim countries and by protecting agricultural land, an often overlooked but significant contributor to our economy and food security. “It is a plan that supports community building and social wellbeing by encouraging the development of ‘complete communities’ designed to support walking, cycling and public transit and healthy lifestyles, and by encouraging the supply of housing suitable for and affordable to all sectors of the population. “It is a plan that protects and nurtures our precious environment by designating conservation and recreation areas, encouraging the protection of critical natural assets and promoting a form of development which reduces the cumulative impact of development on the environment, particularly on air quality.” The new Regional Growth Strategy replaces the Livable Region Strategic Plan, adopted in 1996. “It builds on the strengths of the Livable Region Strategic Plan” said Derek Corrigan, Chair of Metro Vancouver’s Regional Planning Committee, “but it also recognizes that time moves on and new issues needed to be addressed, particularly job dispersal and industrial land protection.” Between 1990 and 2006, about 18 million square feet of office space was built in the region. About 40 per cent of that office space went to downtown Vancouver. Another 11 per cent went to regional town centres. But the rest of the office space – about half of the new office space -- went to suburban business parks, to locations which are not well served by public transit.“For the overall community’s interests, that imposes tremendous public costs. It is an inefficient form of development which undermines transit ridership resulting in the need for public tax subsidies, creates road congestion requiring further public tax monies to fund road improvements, increases air pollution causing yet further tax money to go into the public health system to treat the resulting respiratory problems, and increases greenhouse gas emissions to the peril of future generations.“We perhaps did not protect all the industrial land nor completely cut off employment dispersal and indeed it was a hard battle to make the gains we did make,” Corrigan said. “But these gains were a great stride forward from our 1996 plan and our plan now has an industrial protection strategy and policies to limit the dispersal of employment which will benefit this region for many years to come.”