The Comox Valley Regional District (CVRD) adopted the regional growth strategy (RGS) at its board meeting today.

In 2008, the CVRD was mandated by the provincial government to develop a regional growth strategy, as it is seen to be the most significant tool available to regional districts to manage land use activities within their jurisdictions.

“There is substantial growth and development pressure in the Comox Valley,” said CVRD board chair Edwin Grieve.  “It is recognized that a regional growth strategy is the most appropriate tool to ensure that growth is managed in the best way for those who live here now – and for all those who will live here in the future.”

In accordance with the principles and policies in the bylaw, the adoption and implementation of the RGS will ensure that regional land use, infrastructure and transportation are coordinated in a sustainable manner.

“I would like to congratulate all the local governments from the Comox Valley who worked together to complete the regional growth strategy with involvement of First Nations,” said Don McRae, Minister of Agriculture and Comox Valley MLA. “This is an important milestone to celebrate. We know that high-growth areas such as the Comox Valley need long-term strategies to build resilient communities, create jobs and support families. I look forward to knowing that the natural beauty and outdoor recreation opportunities that all citizens of the Comox Valley cherish will be preserved for generations to come.”

The RGS is a vision of the region to establish the economic, social and environmental objectives that promote healthy and sustainable communities, making efficient use of public facilities, land and other resources. An RGS gives long range planning direction for regional district and municipal official community plans (OCPs) and provides a basis for decisions regarding implementation of provincial programs in the area. There are currently 10 regional districts within the three higher growth areas of the province with completed regional growth strategies.

Extensive public consultation was undertaken throughout 2009 and 2010 with a wide range of stakeholder groups, and all input was used to inform the elected officials as they provided political direction towards crafting the bylaw itself.

With the adoption of the RGS bylaw, all subsequent CVRD bylaws have to be consistent with it.   Municipalities have up to two years to develop a regional context statement (RCS) that becomes part of their OCP. That context statement explains the linkage between the municipality’s local plan and the RGS.  Municipalities have to submit their RCSs to the board for acceptance.

An RGS does not regulate land use within member municipalities. The RGS allows municipalities to have flexibility in the implementation of the objectives of the plan, and only specifies the content to be included in local bylaws.  If a local government (either a municipality or the CVRD) attempts to make a change to land use policies that is contrary to the RGS, and or a board-approved RCS, they would be in contravention of provincial law. In order to enact such a change, an amendment to the RGS and/or the RCS would be required in accordance with the amendment policies in the RGS or Part 25 of the Local Government Act as applicable.

Provisions are in the RGS to establish an on-going monitoring and evaluation framework to annually review how well the bylaw is meeting the needs of the Comox Valley.

The Comox Valley Regional District is a federation of three electoral areas and three municipalities providing sustainable services for residents and visitors to the area. The members of the regional district work collaboratively on services for the benefit of the diverse urban and rural areas of the Comox Valley.