RGS – BACKGROUND INFORMATION
The Comox Valley Regional District (CVRD) was mandated to lead the development of a regional growth strategy (RGS) for the Comox Valley as part of the provincial government's restructure of the Comox Strathcona Regional District. A public consultation program was included in the creation of this long range-planning document.
The region's lifestyle opportunities and high quality of life have long attracted people to the Comox Valley and the CVRD is anticipating considerable growth over the next 20 years. A unified approach from all levels of government will ensure that we achieve the future we all want where these lifestyle advantages will not be lost. The RGS is a “made in the Comox Valley” plan for sustainable growth management that recognizes our unique nature, people and resources.
The Comox Valley RGS takes a “big picture” approach to planning. It focuses on a set of key issues that must be managed on a regional scale. The legislation identified five essential elements that were of interest and were required to be addressed: housing, transportation, regional district services, parks and natural areas and economic development. Also included was a requirement from the CVRD board to incorporate public health and safety.
“It was a collaborative process that included ongoing consultation with the public, First Nations, and local, regional, and senior levels of government,” noted Rob Roycroft, who was the project manager for this project. “The process allowed local residents an opportunity to provide input into the kind of future they desire.”
Difference between RGS and Sustainability Strategy
- Both strategies look to the future and both strategies are about improving the quality of life and the environment in Comox Valley. As a result, the two study teams will work in close tandem to make sure information flows back and forth and that the two sets of strategies are complementary.
- The sustainability strategy focuses on establishing specific environmental principles and related regional and municipal actions (e.g. policies related to local food production, sustainability checklist for developers, policies regarding pesticide use, incentives for using alternative transportation).
- The RGS focuses on the overall pattern of land use in the Valley and the creation of a sustainable human settlement pattern. As such, its focus defines where future growth will occur and the appropriate type, intensity and form of that growth.
- Specifically, the RGS creates clear boundaries for non-developable areas, will generally guide standards and expectations for growth within existing built-up areas and will identify specific areas where future growth is appropriate over the next 30 years.
- In defining the above, the RGS also identifies specific regional services and priorities to support the envisioned growth strategy (e.g. required infrastructure, transportation system, open space and natural system, parks and recreation needs, appropriate housing types and forms, requirements for agricultural lands and natural resources).
- The RGS was a mandated regulatory document whereas the sustainability strategy was something that CVRD elected officials felt would be useful - the RGS is a framework for informing and influencing decision making on land use and related uses - it will guide and in some cases may regulate future actions by the CVRD board and the municipalities of Courtenay, Comox and Cumberland.
- Local municipal OCPs will be updated by 2013 to bring them into compliance with the RGS
- Among other things, the final RGS contains following elements:
• a vision statement for the future of Comox Valley
• population and employment projections
• policy statements addressing specific land-use planning issues
• strategies for reducing greenhouse gas emissions