Surrey council voted Monday night to endorse Metro Vancouver’s regional growth strategy, flipping a decision made by the previous council.
Jeff Arason, Surrey’s acting general manager, planning and development put a corporate report before council on the status of a dispute resolution process connected to the city’s rejection of the regional growth strategy.
Surrey’s Safe Surrey Coalition majority on council last June rejected Metro Vancouver’s request for Surrey to accept its regional growth strategy, arguing it doesn’t give due consideration to the city’s limited land supply coupled with escalating land costs to accommodate employment growth. Twenty-two municipalities accepted the strategy but Surrey and the Township of Langley did not.
Councillors Doug Elford and Mandeep Nagra opposed endorsing the strategy Monday night.
Elford noted Metro Vancouver has a significant impact on taxes. It should confine itself to its core services, he argued. “This includes water, sewage treatment and solid waste.”
He said he doesn’t support Metro Vancouver reaching beyond that. “Metro provides a variety of service that benefits smaller communities but not to the benefit of Surrey. This results in duplication of services that the taxpayer bears the burden for.”
Surrey needs to be able to plan the city as council sees fit, Elford said, “not at the discretion of a Metro director who hails from another jurisdiction.
“Surrey needs the independence to make its own decisions regarding how we plan our city,” Elford said.
Nagra echoed that.
“We’re the ones here who got elected in the city of Surrey, I think we’re the ones who should be making decisions on our land use, not the councillors who got elected in North Van or other municipalities,” he said. “We should be making the decisions, we know what Surrey needs. We know better than councillors from other municipalities so let’s start making decisions here.”
In his report to council Arason noted the Local Government Act requires regional districts to prepare a 20-year plan that includes a “comprehensive statement” on the region’s future with “social, economic, and environmental objectives, population and employment projections, and proposed actions regarding housing, transportation, regional services, parks and natural areas, and economic development.”