Environment Canada re Green Zone

Metro Vancouver’s website includes responses to the 2040 Regional Growth Strategy. I’m impressed with Environment Canada’s response. It is from Paul Kluckner, Regional Director for the Pacific and Yukon Region.

Most importantly, Mr. Kluckner makes a clear and cogent point about the Green Zone:

I note that the “Green Zone” brand, included in previous versions of the Regional Growth Strategy, is absent from this draft strategy. In the Regional Growth Strategy, former “Green Zones” are divided into Rural, Conservation/Recreation and Agricultural areas. The “Green Zone” is an effective brand to communicate and protect green spaces throughout Metro Vancouver. To protect Metro Vancouver’s green spaces, I suggest that these classifications’ specific roles should be further clarified as sub-sets of the Green Zone to ensure a consistent approach in their application.”

I strongly support Mr. Kluckner’s proposal for three reasons:

  1. “Green Zone” is a strong brand. It is a crisp two syllables. Each is a common word used in a common way, and the basic meaning when they’re combined is obvious. It is easy to visualize a green zone: green map areas that stand for green land. It is also easy to remember the name and build on the basic meaning. Contrast that with “Conservation and Recreation Land Use Designation” or even “Agricultural Land Use Designation,” abstractions of 15 and 11 syllables respectively. In discussing Richmond lands that belong in the Agricultural Land Use Designation with a reporter a few months ago, I realized that the change was confusing and frustrating for him. We couldn’t express it in few enough words to avoid derailing what he was trying to report, and his article simply reverted to the “Green Zone” term.
                            
  2. More than one of the land use designations could perhaps simultaneously apply to a property in the Green Zone. The Garden City Lands and the Department of National Defense Lands to their east fall into the Agricultural Land Use Designation because they are ALR land, and it happens that the conservation and recreational uses that people usually envision can occur on ALR land. However, the existing “Green Zone” term describes the property best, and the “Agricultural” sub-set label would be additional in Mr. Kluckner’s recommended version of the new system. It could be determined whether to also add the “Conservation and recreation” sub-set label to the property after the guidelines are developed further. That’s ideal.
               
    This point is even more obviously applicable to Richmond’s Terra Nova Rural Park, which has large agricultural areas along with large conservation areas, plus recreational uses throughout. Even though it’s a large park of 63 acres (25.5 hectares) with those green uses, along with “Rural” in its name, it is designated “Urban” on the Richmond land use map. Perhaps it would be harder for the obvious mislabeling to occur if “Green Zone” had still been available.
                                
  3. The change is self-defeating if Metro Vancouver wants to keep protecting Green Zone lands. For those of us engaged in conservation, it’s a huge challenge to get people who generally don’t read newspapers, let alone English-language papers, to understand “Agricultural Land Reserve” sufficiently. In contrast, ALR opponents can say things like “We need green space, not the Agricultural Land Reserve,” immediately confusing a a chunk of the population into thinking the ALR doesn’t matter much. At least the opponents haven’t been able to do that with the Green Zone, since “We need green space, not the Green Zone” just sounds like the babble it is.

It’s also good to see that Regional Director Paul Kluckner is encouraging that Metro integrate its strategic plan with existing plans and maps. Many supporters of saving the Garden City Lands have encouraged consistency in plans. Particularly, they have asked Metro to “designate” all Agricultural Land Reserve Lands as “Agricultural,” recognizing the legal reality and the benefits of rationalized planning.

There are other good points in Paul Kluckner’s letter. In brief, here are three:

  • Partnership opportunities with non-governmental organizations should be emphasized with conservation and recreational areas. (Comment: That applies to the Garden City Lands Coalition, since we have conservational and environmental goals as well as agricultural ones.)
  • New development should not occur in areas with high flood vulnerability.
  • Protection should be defined in measurable ways. That includes the level of protection and the amount of land protected. (Comment: Authentic performance improvement measures have to include practical measurement of the starting point.)

 Good work, Environment Canada!

Note: Other responses to the Regional Growth Strategy are available in Metro’s “What We Have Heard So Far.”

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1 Comment »

  1. 1
    Olga Says:

    Good call about the feedback avail.on the MV web-site for a viewing, I found the feedback from Richmond City Hall here:
    http://www.metrovancouver.org/planning/development/LRSPreview/LRSPDocs/Richmond2010.pdf
    please read page 3 dated Dec.3, 2009 – it clarifies the situation with the current designation of the GCL as Urban regardless of the decision that was made by City Council to designate it as “Under Study” specifically it says:
    “Items agreed to in the latest RGS revision:
    The Garden City Lands and DND lands are now shown as RGS “Urban” which will enable their future use to be determined without MV board involvement”
    Who decided on that revision on the City of Richmond behalf, the staff without knowledge of the council or city council had this decision made behind of closed doors without knowledge of the public? So it is easy to strip the protection that is given to the land as the agriculture reserve, it does not mean anything now?


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