This Happened (v.4)

I am really not good at keeping up with these, but here are a few things that kept me busy over the last couple of weeks.

Member of Parliament Peter Julian throws a heck of a Lunar New Year event every year, and this Year of the Rat was no exception. Being at the Nikkei Centre in Burnaby, it attracted more Burnaby folks than New West, but there were a bunch of cultural displays from around southeast and east Asia, mercifully short speeches from the elected types, and general good feelings all around.

The same day, New Westminster was able to cut the ribbon on one of our significant facility investments of the last few years: a new Animal Shelter in Queensborough. The old shelter was small and pretty, uh… lived in. The new shelter has enough capacity to accommodate the cats, dogs, and various smaller animals that find themselves abandoned in New West, and the dedicated staff and volunteers finally have appropriate workspaces to do their compassionate work.

The opening was really well attended with hot dogs (natch) cake, music, face painting, and tours of the facility. The Mayor and I both took our bikes to the opening, and enjoyed a QtoQ ride back on a cold but sunny day. It was good to see the service being used, even a few full boatloads. Not perfect for the few people has to wait 15 minutes for the next sailing, but a good sign for the popularity of the service.

The 2020 Push Festival included a couple of shows at the Anvil Centre, and I was able to attend one called “What you won’t do for love”. This was kind of a play with video montages, but more of a staged read-through of a play still in development. It was the story of David Suzuki and Tara Cullis, told in an engaging format centered around them telling vignettes from their history together at a dinner party. The themes were (of course) about life-long activism and conscience-raising about the environment, but it also talked about a relationship between two life loves, partners, and conspirators.

I have talked about David Suzuki and my mixed feelings about him before in a review of an earlier documentary about his life, and have been at events where he has spoken before, but I have never seen him act as vulnerable or deferential before as when he was sharing a table with Cullis. Perhaps their stories leaned a little heavily on the lateralization of brain function as a determinant of personality (ugh), but the conceit allows them to talk about how they rely on each other and work together. My mixed feelings aside, it was an interesting and informative event with a fair amount of emotional baggage attached, and the almost-full-room crowd was definitely engaged!

In the less performance category, there was a stakeholder workshop for the proposed Hume Park Master Plan. People from (mostly) Sapperton and identified user groups (Lacrosse, Rugby, HUB cycling, etc.) were asked about how they view Hume Park, what they would preserve, and what they would change. I am not a common user of Hume (though I ride my bike through it often!) so I was mostly there to listen and learn about what is most valued in the Park. I also learned that Fred Hume was not only the Mayor of New Westminster, but went on to be Mayor of Vancouver (though he lived in West Vancouver!), founded the radio station now known as 102.7 the Peak and the Vancouver Canucks, and is in the both the Hockey and Lacrosse Halls of Fame. Yikes.

We also had a series of consultations over the last couple of weeks on waste and recycling service. Not sure if you heard, but the recycling centre by the Canada Games Pool has to move to accommodate the construction of the new pool, which is anticipated to start in the next couple of months. This doesn’t mean the City is abandoning recycling, only that we are going to have to change how we deliver recycling. This consultation was meant to help staff understand what the main drivers of recycling are, and what barriers there are to recycling.

At the event I attended, there was a lot of discussion, some people disappointed about the movement of the current yard, some not that fussed about it, and mostly a lot of curiosity about things like collecting curbside glass or limits on green waste. I only wish the participation represented a more representative example of New West residents.

A few of us also attended the announcement at Pier Park that the main contractor has been hired for the Pattullo Bridge replacement project, which I already talked about here.

Aside from that, I had a couple of Task Force meetings, lunch with Councillor Dupont from Coquitlam to talk about Lower Mainland LGA business at a busy River Market, and a meeting over coffee with a couple of members of the New West Fire and Rescue service to touch bases on some of their opportunities and concerns.

I also got a couple of sunny bike rides in!

Two Bridges

A presser was called in New West this week to let people know that the design-build contract for the Pattullo Bridge replacement has been awarded, complete with a first rendering of what the bridge may look like. This is design-build, so expect that early renderings may be adjusted to accommodate the many competing demands and value engineering that the contractor will have to wrestle between now and ribbon cutting.

And then there are the political demands.

This conversation has gone on for a few years, but each new news cycle will require it to be told again. Such are our times. The City of New Westminster, the City of Surrey, and the TransLink (which was the responsible agency for the Pattullo) spent years doing planning and public consultation on the very question of what to do about the Pattullo. A quick scan of this blog finds that these conversations were happening back in 2011, and before I was elected I attended numerous public meetings, open houses, and community events (even dressed for the occasion on occasion).

At the end of that work, after all of those conversations in the impacted communities, an MOU was completed between the major stakeholders agreeing that a 4-lane bridge with appropriate ped/cycling connections was the appropriate structure to replace the aging Pattullo. Not everyone agreed, some wanted the bridge closed completely or moved, some wanted a 8-lane bridge and tunnel to Burnaby. If you look closely at the costume above, you will note it features a 3-lane refurbished Pattullo with a counter-flow middle lane, so there is my bias. Clearly, not everyone was going to be happy. As is usually the result if consultations are comprehensive and honest, the most reasonable result was settled upon.

The 4-lane bridge is the project upon which the Environmental Assessment and Indigenous Consultation were framed. It is the project that was taken to Treasury Board to fund, it is the project whose impacts were negotiated with the City at each end. It is the right size for the site, and it is the project that will be built. Re-negotiating those 8 years of consultation and planning now is ridiculous because nothing has changed in the principles that underlie that MOU.

Which brings me to this little news story. It is hard to tell where this is coming from, except for a zealous local reporter in Delta trying to put a local angle on a provincial news release. There is nothing new in this story, no new questions asked or answered, but a re-hashing of staff comments from 3 years ago.

With all due respect to the staff member quoted, those comments from early 2017 are now based on bad data, since the traffic impact issues raised were from before the removal of Port Mann tolls – which everyone in New West recognizes had a profound impact on Pattullo traffic. I have some data on that coming in a future post, but for now this is my (paraphrased) retort:

Of course, the Pattullo isn’t the only bridge Delta wants money poured into right now. The patently ridiculous 10-lane boondoggle project to replace the Massey Tunnel has been effectively shelved, but the province is currently reviewing other options. Unfortunately, the currently-leading option would be as expensive and no less boondoggley, doubling freeway car capacity to a low-density sprawling community that still resists the type of density or growth that would support more sustainable urban development, while somehow framing this entrenchment of motordom as a functioning part of a Climate Emergency response. This is a 1950s solution to a 1990s problem.

This is troubling climate denial, as Delta will certainly feel the impacts of climate change more than any community in the lower mainland, but I digress yet again.

The short news here is that Delta wants New West paved over and the people who live here to breathe their exhaust and walk near their speeding boxes. They also want the people of Richmond to pave over more farmland and have their community bisected by more freeway noise and disruption. If accomplished, they will (no doubt) be calling for the people of Vancouver to expand the already-congested Oak Street Bridge and the Granville Corridor and maybe a third crossing of the north arm because their suburban lifestyle demands it. And they want everyone else to pay for it, because tolls are “unfair”.

If this ode to motordom in the face of a Climate Emergency boggles your mind as much as it does mine, you can always let the provincial government know, because they are taking public comment on the Massey Tunnel Expansion Project right now. Go there, remain anonymous, and tell them what you think. I did.

Council – Feb 10, 2020

We had a special Council meeting this week. Instead of a regular night of councilly business, we reviewed four Section 57 filings. We do these on non-regular meeting nights, because they are a little more like a hearing than a regular council meeting, as the owners of the subject properties are able to come and hear their case, and address Council with their concerns.

A Section 57 Notice on Title is a form of soft enforcement the City can apply on property owners who have been found to be non-compliant to building or zoning Bylaws. A notice goes on the on the property title indicating that the property is not compliant with bylaws, and that the City has ordered the property owner to take corrective action. If the corrective action is taken the notice can be removed, but until then the owner may have difficulty selling the property or securing a mortgage on the property. Most importantly, it lets any potential purchaser know that the property is non-compliant, so they don’t get caught by surprise.

The City doesn’t do too many of these, as they are a bit of a hassle and not the only enforcement tool staff have, but they have a purposeful role. I think we have done fewer than a half dozen in my time on Council. The four reviewed during this meeting were:

1: A house in Queensborough where the owner enclosed an outdoor deck and built a living space into the back of their tandem garage. These works were done without a building permit or inspections, and the resultant living space in the house exceeds the zoning allowance by 319 square feet. The original issues were first identified by Bylaws staff back in 2016, and the owner has shown no proactive measures to address the non-compliance.

2: A house in the West End where the owner enclosed an outdoor deck and built an extension onto an elevated rear deck resulting in a house that is 46 Square Feet above the floor space allowed by zoning and 63 square feet more lot coverage than allowed. These works were done without a building permit or inspections. The issues were first identified in 2016, and the owner has not taken any proactive measures to address the issues.

3: A House in Connaught Heights with a slightly complicated ownership history that has made enforcement difficult. This property also had an unlawfully enclosed deck and an illegal secondary suite with significant safety concerns. The livable floor space exceed zoning allowance by 250 square feet, and these works were done without permits or inspections. Enforcement activities have been going on since 2013, and the owner has refused to comply to previous orders.

4: An industrial property in the Braid Industrial Area where three buildings (two tent-like storage buildings and one office space) were constructed without permits or inspections. This site has a complicated history, in part related to the industrial activity on the site.

Council moved to place the Section 57 notices on all 4 properties. Hopefully, this will compel the owners to bring them into compliance, and no further enforcement action will be required.

ASK PAT: Parking (car, bikes, & butts)

Oh boy, its been a while since I did one of these. I have few Ask Pats in the queue. Sorry folks, I like responding to these, I’m just stressed for time. But since it is such a nice sunny February day, I decided to sit down in my writing cellar and bang through a couple of them, omnibus style:

LNW asked—

If I have an Evo vehicle parked in front of my house(blocking my sidewalk by the way) will the city remove it if it is still there in 72 hours?? I have contacted Evo but as yet–nothing.

If the EVO Car is parked in a legal public parking space, where you would normally be able to park your car on the public street as a resident or visitor or customer of a business, then the EVO is parked legally. There is no 72-hour restriction on residents storing their car on public streets, as long as the car is insured. For the purposes of our Bylaws in New West, a EVO is treated like a resident’s car. So near I can tell, they aren’t doing anything illegal.

If you have any questions around the EVO parking rules, they are laid out in quite a bit of detail here on the EVO FAQ page.


TN asks—

Are there any times when the 2hr free street parking around RCH is not in effect?

I have no idea. Really, the details of local parking rules like this are just outside of my Council purview. I actually had no idea there was two hours of free street parking around RCH, I always thought you had to pay for parking on the street by the hospital, unless you are parked in a residential area for which you have a parking pass. But then I noticed some of the residential areas allow two hours of permit-free parking. As far as I can tell, that is 24 hours a day. But I’m really not an expert. There is more info here, and if you have more questions, best to contact our parking folks at 604-519-2010 or parking@newwestcity.ca


Rob asked—

Patrick
In the plans for the new recreation centre, has the surge in e bikes been considered as a transportation option? Recharging stations and secure lockups come to mind. Safe bike lanes leading to the centre too. This action supports several of the 7 goals.

Short answer is yes, though we are not quite there yet in the detail design work. The plan last I looked at it was to have a covered secure bike parking area at the north/east entrance where there are lots of eyes on it, and there is a plan to have it wired for e-bikes. We are also having a conversation about our zoning bylaw for new developments, and looking at how we can better support the safe storage and electrical charging of e-assist bikes in new residential and commercial developments.

The connections to the site for bikes along the Crosstown Greenway is also a big part of the site design, with the slope on the west side where the overpass comes down to grade being the biggest challenge the engineers are working on right now. We have also emphasized that the current route across the north part of the site needs to be protected and accessible during construction, during the demo of the CGP, and of course once the new layout of the site is complete.


Wes asks—

Why can’t a brewery get a non-temporary patio in New West?

Has anyone in city hall ever been to Portland (or even Port Moody)? Every brewery literally gets rid of their parking lots and replace them with picnic tables and umbrellas.

I may be familiar with the brewery-rich locations you mention, and I will try my hardest to answer this question without making specific references to any breweries operating in New West, as I feel somewhat in conflict.

There are no specific restrictions on breweries having outdoor patios in the City Bylaws. As you see across New West, restaurants have no problem getting patio licenses, and I would think it should be the same for breweries. That said, permitting breweries is a multi-agency thing, with all three levels of government involved, and making all three line up can be challenge. If a brewery in New West (and I’m NOT pointing to any one or two specifically) is unable to have a patio, it is likely because they don’t have physical space on their property, or the owner of the property (if the brewery leases) will not permit the permanent conversion of outdoor space to patio. It is also possible that patio seats would exceed the number of regulated seats that exist under their liquor license or zoning, and adding seats may require they comply with building code requirements around accessibility, number of bathrooms, etc. Those things can be changed with an application to the City and the Province, but I don’t know of any such application coming forward.

There is a nuance in the provincial liquor licensing that allows temporary licensing of extra spaces as “special event licenses”, but the province limits this to a few times a year to prevent breweries from using it to get around the other code requirements. That also usually means getting a short-term workaround of any code requirements, such as installing temporary bathrooms, getting permission from the landowner, or establishing a temporary fence/barrier separating provincially-licensed places-you-can-drink from places you can’t drink. Licensing booze in this province still carries a bunch of archaic restrictions, and I don’t know what else to say about that.

Council – Feb 3, 2020

February is upon us, the bleakest of months, but nothing brightens up the winter like a Council Meeting! Our Agenda this week began with a couple of presentations from staff:

Economic Development Plan Implementation Update
We got a report on the next phases of implementation in the City’s Economic Development Plan.

Some good stuff has been done, including setting up a “how to” guide to help guide businesses hoping to set up in New West. We are currently working on a “customer journey” audit to better understand the challenges and pitfalls that businesses may have in trying to work with City hall in setting up, hoping to find some efficiencies and help staff see the various processes through the eyes of the applicant coming to City Hall. There is a how to guide available on-line to help new businesses understand the easiest pathway between inevitable hoops. And there are more metrics being collected and reported out on-line to track business growth and economic impact in the City. And some Bylaw service changes to support business licensing better, which came up next.

Update on Licensing and Integrated Services Division
“Integrated Services” is one of those names that could mean basically anything, but in New West it means the department that deals with enforcing (most) bylaws and licensing in the City. Despite the significant growth in the City over the last dozen years, the increased emphasis on progressive enforcement and community outreach, and the introduction of new areas of work (anti-demoviction actions, cannabis retail, ride-hailing, etc.), the department has not grown in staff over that time. They work hard in the Integrated Services division, and it is not easy work. You might want to read the appendix to this report to understand the challenges that our enforcement officers sometimes face when they are at the intersection of unsafe premises, people in distress, and the need to assure public safety.

That doesn’t mean we can’t find better ways to provide the service with the resources we have. This report covers some changes happening in the department to better meet today’s needs. One idea is to shift the License Coordinator position over to a more customer-focused Business License Ambassador role, and more integration with the Economic Development office to assure we are providing the right kind of support for the community. Another is to shift our bylaw enforcement staff from regional coverage (i.e. each take a third of the City) to one where they are responsible for a major category of bylaws – tenant support, construction impacts, and property use.

This is a good news story about staff working hard, achieving great results, and finding efficiencies to reduce the costs.


The following items were Moved on Consent:

Budget 2020 Process – Engagement Results
The 2020 Budget process marks the beginning of a new way of doing things. Staff is working hard to engage the public in a more open dialogue about the budget than we have ever done before. We have had council workshops, public open houses, and on-line surveys to inform people about the budget process, and ask them to help us set priorities. Long before decisions are made, we provided the spreadsheets to the public to show what the plan looks like, and have asked them to give us feedback. This report provides some of that feedback.

I don’t think I want to dive too deep in to the feedback here. I’ve read the detailed report, and there will be time to discuss the ideas in it as the budget process is ongoing. I found it especially valuable to be present at the public workshop and hear the conversations going on around the need to invest in infrastructure, the need to take bold action on climate, and concerns about how much money those things may costs. It is also clear (and noted in the report) that there is a lack of clear consensus, which is what you expect from public consultation.

Massey Theatre Working Group Terms of Reference
This is a follow-up on the motion Councillor Trentadue put forward a couple of meetings ago to put together a task force charged with coordinating the details of a new working agreement between Massey Theatre Society and the City in light of the imminent transfer of the Theatre from the School District to the City. If you are into theatres, committees, or terms of reference, this is good reading! If you are into all three, you really should already be on the board of the Massey Theatre Society (or the Royal City Musical theatre, the Vagabond Players, the Arts Council, or any of the other incredible performing arts-supporting organization in this city!)

815 Milton Street: Heritage Revitalization Agreement (815 Milton Street) Amendment Bylaw – Consideration of First and Second Readings
This heritage house in the Brow of the Hill was protected as part of an HRA in 2005. They now want to make improvements to the house to allow a secondary suite, that includes raising the house by four inches (yes, that is 10 centimeters) and to allow the single off-street parking space to be converted to two tandem parking spots. Because of the HRA an amendment would be needed to make this legal. This application will go to public hearing, but because of the relatively minor nature of the changes and the new streamlined process the city is trying to encourage, there will be no public open house or presentation to the RA. If you have concerns, let us know, or show up at the Public Hearing on February 24th.

510 St. George Street: Development Variance Permit to Vary Height Limit – Notice of Opportunity to be Heard
This homeowner in Queens Park wants to lift their house by 3 feet, in order to have a full basement and basement suite, which would move the roof, which is already a little above permitted, to a little plus three feet. The house is subject to the Heritage Conservation Area Bylaw, but is not an HRA protected house. This change will require a zoning variance that will come to an Opportunity to be Hear on February 24th. C’mon out and tell us what you think.

2223 Ninth Avenue: Rezoning for a Single Detached Dwelling including a Secondary Suite and Detached Accessory Building in a Comprehensive Development Zone – Zoning Amendment Bylaw No. 8180, 2020 for Two Readings
This is an application to rezone a single family lot at the top of Connaught Heights where small house still stand between two much larger houses that sit at higher grade (due to some weirdness that used to exist in our zoning bylaw around grade modifications). So the rezoning also includes some relaxations of the definitions of basement and cellar to allow it to be built in a comparable form to the houses on either side. There will be a Public Hearing on February 24th, so join us for this discussion!

Application for Grant Funding for West End Sewer Separation Program to the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program – Green Infrastructure Environmental Quality
The City of New West still has some significant areas of combined sewer. This means that the stuff you flush mixes with the stuff that runs off or your yard and the streets and it all goes to the sewer treatment plant. Most modern cities (and newer parts of New West) run parallel systems where the flushing goes to the treatment plant, the rain runoff goes to the river. The bad part about combined is that we pay to pump all of that rainwater to the plant, and now that it is mixed with your unmentionables, we need to pay to treat it all. Also, in really bad rain events, there simply isn’t enough capacity to move all that water to the plant, so some of it overflows into the river –taking your previously unmentioned stuff with it.

So the City is in a multi-year, and terribly expensive, process of sewer separation. We have in the past received grants from senior governments to help pay for this, because the environmental benefits of doing this work expand beyond New West. This report informs everyone that we are applying for more grants to do some more of this work in the West End. Our costs for this come out of your sewer fees, senior government grants will reduce the need to increase your sewer fees. Cross your fingers.

719 Colborne Street: Rezoning and Minor Development Permit Applications for Two Accessory Dwellings – Bylaw for Two Readings
This is an application to rezone a single family home on Glenbrook North to formalize a basement suite and convert the existing accessory building to a laneway house. It is a bit of a unique property, with “two fronts”, one on Colborne and one on Park Crescent. The application will go to Public Hearing on what is starting to look like a busy February 24th meeting. C’mon out and tell us what you think.

457 East Columbia Street: Rezoning and Liquor Primary, Family Friendly Endorsement for Arcade – Report for Information
The Arcade in Sapperton has now been operating for a while under their Temporary Use Permit, and looking to apply for a rezoning for permanent use and a liquor license. There will be some community consultation, and we expect this to come back to Council (and to a Public Hearing) this Spring, so keep your ears open.


The following items were Removed from Consent for discussion:

Update on Intelligent New West Event Planning
The successful Innovation Week programming of the last couple of years is taking on a new form and a new format. One of the concerns of the existing event was that many people wanted to attend multiple sessions, but simply couldn’t afford to take 3 or 4 consecutive days off to see it all. So the week is now broken up to 4 “Intelligent New West” one-day events, spread across the year.

The first will be an expo on February 20th will be the popular Innovation Expo, where local entrepreneurs and business can learn about how to connect with governments, be that earning government procurement contracts or seeking grants or funding for innovative businesses ideas and growth.

The next will be on March 11th at City Hall, where the Department of Nation Defense is sponsoring an event on “Allies and Modern Trades”, how we can create more space in the Trades (including Technology trades) for women, both as employers and as allies. This will be interesting for people training and/or hoping to work in the trades and employers working with trades.

Amendments to the Sign Bylaw regarding Election Signs
Every election year, we get some feedback on election signs. Many don’t like them, some see them as necessary evil, and very, very, few (outside of the printing and coroplast industries) celebrate new election sign season. With some feedback arising from the 2018 election, staff are recommending some bylaw changes. Biggest among them is doing what some other communities have done, limiting election signs to the 2’ x 2’ “lawn sign” size, and restricting the larger billboard signs. This will reduce the visual hazard of signs, and also level the playing field a bit, as the large signs (and their supporting infrastructure) are expensive. There is also a proposal to ban all “car signs” – meaning (as I interpret it), you can neither apply a sign to a moving vehicle, nor “wrap” your vehicle in a sign. The MayorMobile will roll no more.

As this is (obviously) an area fraught with potential political bias, staff are recommending we take these proposed Bylaw changes out to the public for feedback, and also connect with all of the recent electoral candidates (successful or not) to get feedback prior to asking the Council to vote on a revised Bylaw.

Urban Forest Management Strategy – Community Outreach
We want to increase our tree canopy in the City to help meet our Climate Action goals, and to make for a more livable community. Some of the thousands of new trees we will need to plant will be on City lands (Parks, boulevards, etc.), and some will need ot be on private lands (your yard!). So we want encourage new trees on private yards. This report talks about how we will do that.

We will hold an annual tree sale – every property owner can purchase up to two trees at a subsidized cost of $10. There will be a selection of species appropriate for our climate, and staff will provide some instructions on which type fits best in your chosen location and how to keep your tree alive the for couple of years until it is established;

We will also provide a rebate program for residents that choose to go to the nursery and purchase their own tree for their property. Much like the nematode program, you buy a tree, you put it on your property, you keep it alive, we will give you $20.

Finally, we are going to introduce a program to “adopt” the boulevard tree in front of your house, to connect the homeowner with sources of info to keep their boulevard trees healthy- such as summer watering schedules, mulching, and giving the city notice if the tree is looking damaged or unhealthy.

And that was the work part of Council this week, though we had some interesting delegations that you can enjoy on the Video!

Metro2020

Last week during our afternoon workshop, New West Council received a presentation by representatives of Metro Vancouver’s Regional Planning Services. They were here to talk about the upcoming update to Metro2040, the Regional Growth Strategy, eloquently labelled Metro2050.

The Regional Growth Strategy is the highest-level planning document in the region. All municipalities have some form of master planning document, be it an Official Community Plan or a collection of Neighborhood Plans that lay out in broad strokes what the vision is for the community over the decades ahead. This is important, because it allows government and utilities to plan new roads, water and sewer lines, recreation facilities, emergency services, schools, and all of the things that should, ideally, be planned out before they are needed. It also helps guide policy assures communities have the right mix of housing types, commercial and institutional land, and green space. Without a well-understood plan, we cannot develop the robust policy needed to shape the outcomes we are looking for.

All the municipalities in Metro Vancouver agreed upon and ratified the Metro 2040 plan back in 2011, and all of our subsequent Official Community Plans (including the OurCity 2041 plan adopted by New West in 2017) include a context statement that links it to the greater regional plan. This is because all of the things I listed above (roads, utilities, etc.) need to be planned at a regional level if we hope to have a livable region. Every community shares our regional sewer system (for example), and the growth of the region relies on significant investment in new sewer infrastructure – not just pipes in the ground, but billions of dollars in wastewater treatment plants that need to be planned out a decade or more in advance. To make that work, we need to know where the houses, the apartments, the breweries and the shopping malls Amazon Fulfillment Centres are going to be when that plant is operating. That’s the essence of planning.

As we start looking at Metro2050, I wanted to get an idea of how we were doing on Metro2040. One of the easiest things to evaluate looking at that strategy is how growth was distributed across the region. If you look at Appendix A of Metro2040, you see population growth projections for the region by decade:

This is an extract from the Metro2040 plan, I removed a few of the smaller municipalities like Lions Bay and Anmore because they account for less than 0.2% of the regional population, and though they are certainly beautiful communities full of wonderful people, their growth trends are irrelevant to the regional picture.

As we are now almost a decade in, and are doing an update, I thought it might be useful to see how these projections turned out. Unfortunately, the best source for annual population estimates is not the Metro2040 Plan, but the annual stats collected by the Province (you can see them here), and they do not correlate perfectly with the Metro Numbers. Here are the BC Population Stats for 2011 and (most recently) 2019 for the municipalities above:

The numbers are not exactly the same as the Metro estimates, but we can compare the two sets by looking at the projected total growth (2011-2021) as a percentage of the 2011 population from Metro, and the estimated actual growth between 2011-2019 from the BC Government stats. Since that growth only includes 8 years, I projected forward two more years at the same rate of growth for each community – so which communities are on trend to meet their 2011-2021 estimates? The numbers may surprise you:

As you can see, the projected rate of growth of the Metro region over the decade was 18%, or about 1.7% annually. The actual growth from 2011 to 2019 was closer to 13% (or little over 1.5% annually), and if you project this trend forward to 2021, you get 16% growth. We over-estimated slightly.

Using the same baseline, you see vast differences around the region when communities are compared to their goals. White Rock, North Van City and Maple Ridge all grew much more than their projections, while Coquitlam and Port Moody were anomalously lower than their projected growth. Of course, this is compared to their projections, as Langley Township grew 7% less than projected, but was still the fastest growing municipality in the region at 29% growth, where Delta was one of the slowest-growing communities at 9% over the decade, but still exceeded its meagre growth projection.

There are, no doubt, local reasons for these trends. The fact the two newest communities in the SkyTrain family (Port Moody and Coquitlam) are the ones that lagged farthest behind may be related to how far behind projected opening the Evergreen Line was. Coquitlam seems to be catching up with significant growth around their new stations, though it seems Port Moody is on a different path. It is also interesting, if anecdotal, that many communities that had the most growth-related angst through the 2018 local elections, like White Rock, Port Moody and the District of North Vancouver, have some of the lowest actual population growth numbers. Having population growth rates of less than a half a percentage a year in this region is an anomaly worth exploring deeper as we look forward.

There is more info about the Metro2050 process, and ways you can get engaged here at the Metro2050 page. C’mon out, tell them what you think.