A Regional Growth Strategy (RGS) is a government strategic plan to promote human settlement that is socially, economically and environmentally healthy and makes efficient use of public facilities, land and other resources. An RGS gives long range planning direction for a regional district and municipal policies, plans and projects. It is also intended to provide a framework for regional cooperation with the Province.
The Regional Growth Strategy was adopted by the Comox Valley Regional District Board in March 2011.
The Regional Growth Strategy provides direction for the overall pattern of land use in the Comox Valley and defines a sustainable human settlement pattern. The Regional Growth Strategy provides direction for the overall pattern of land use in the Comox Valley for the next 20 years. It promotes regional coordination on issues associated with growth. It also identifies specific regional services (water, sewer and solid waste to name a few) to support the envisioned growth strategy.
The intent of the Regional Growth Strategy (RGS) is to provide for a common vision for the entire region through the eight goal areas. The RGS does not regulate land use within member municipalities. Rather, the municipalities define how they are working towards the goals of the RGS within their “Regional Context Statement” in their Official Community Plans.
Initiating a growth strategy was a requirement of its Letters Patent granted by the Province at the time of the restructuring of the Comox Strathcona Regional District into the Comox Valley Regional District and the Strathcona Regional District in 2008.
After adopting a Regional Growth Strategy (RGS), the regional district must establish a program to monitor its implementation. To ensure that it remains up-to-date, the regional district will reassess the RGS at least once every five years and consider whether amendments are necessary. The decision to initiate a review of the RGS is made by the Comox Valley Regional District Board.
In 2017, the Regional Board decided not to proceed with a review of the RGS. The next opportunity to consider a review will be in 2022.
The process to amend the Regional Growth Strategy (RGS) is incorporated into the bylaw, enabling member municipalities, the Electoral Area Service Committee and the Comox Valley Regional District board to propose an amendment at any time. Similar to the adoption of the RGS, any amendment must go through a public consultation process and secure support from the board and other affected local governments.
There are a number of ways the goals, objectives and policies of the Regional Growth Strategy (RGS) are implemented:
Municipal Context Statements: Each member municipality has to prepare a context statement within its Official Community Plan that highlights how it is working towards the objectives of the RGS. To learn more about each municipality’s OCP and/or context statement, visit Town of Comox, the City of Courtenay or the Village of Cumberland.
Regional District Land Use Policies: Part 13 of the Local Government Act requires that all bylaws adopted by the regional district and all services undertaken must be consistent with the RGS.
Implementation Agreements: An implementation agreement is a partnership agreement between a regional district and other levels of government, their agencies or other bodies, which spells out the details of how certain aspects of a regional growth strategy will be carried out.
Lands designated as a "settlement expansion area" usually fall into two categories 1) lands already developed with higher densities that could benefit from future access to municipal services such as sewer/water; 2) lands with minimal development that may be needed to support urban forms of development in the future. Identifying these lands now, ensures they are protected from any further development that would affect their ability to be appropriately serviced by municipal services should they be incorporated into the municipal boundary.
When the Regional Growth Strategy (RGS) was created there was extensive public consultation, particularly around the size and scope of the settlement expansion areas outside municipal boundaries. Following first and second readings of the bylaw, a public hearing was also held to give everyone the opportunity to provide feedback. On March 2011, the RGS was adopted by the Comox Valley Regional District Board and all local governments.
Any future updates to the RGS would follow a similar process with opportunity for public consultation and feedback from the community. On an ongoing basis, the public contributes to the RGS by participating in the numerous projects and initiatives that implement the RGS (e.g. housing needs assessment project, airshed roundtable, etc.).