British Columbia's Growth Strategies Act: A Policy Critique

By Meligrana, John | Canadian Journal of Urban Research, June 2000 | Go to article overview

British Columbia's Growth Strategies Act: A Policy Critique


Meligrana, John, Canadian Journal of Urban Research


Resume

L'adoption recente, en Colombie Britannique, de la Loi sur les strategies de croissance (Growth Strategies Act) constitue une etape majeure dans l'etablissement de principes de planification a l'echelle de la province, tout en servant de guide pour les relations entre les institutions gouvernementales locales en matiere de planification regionale integree. La Loi cherche a mettre en place des processus susceptibles de mener au developpement de strategies de croissance regionales, surtout au niveau des districts regionaux qui connaissent une forte croissance et des tendances au developpement. Cet article explique en detail la Loi afin de reveler les forces et les faiblesses de l'action legislative de la province en vue d'une planification regionale integree.

Introduction

Growth management attempts to bring together the various public and private institutions involved in the direct and indirect planning and development of a city-region. The multi-jurisdictional environment of city-regions poses problems and prospects for achieving sound planning and development of integrated urban-economic regions. The critical concern becomes both the formal and informal relationships that exist in a city-region, and how effective such relationships are in achieving, or working toward, effective regional plans, policies and regulations. In short, making real planning decisions involves unpacking the governance of the entire city-region. Without comprehensive knowledge of local state institutions, major stakeholders, and statutory responsibilities and regulations regarding urban and regional development, there is no hope of realizing good planning ideas. The dynamism of institutions involved in the governance of metropolitan growth is of primary importance, as city-regions position themselves within an increasingly competitive global economy, while, at the same time, trying to control local social and environmental growth-related issues (Artibise 1996; Leo et al. 1998; Pierre 1999; Sancton 1994).

This dynamism is shaped, to a great degree, by provincial legislation that assigns powers and obligations, regarding local state institutions, in the planning and development of certain areas. All local governments, agencies, boards and commissions exist at the mere pleasure of the provinces. Local institutions, moreover, must abide by the rules and regulations that their provincial masters set out in certain legislation such as a municipal act. In effect, legislation governing the local government system that sets out the "rules of the game," in which public and private actors can plan and develop real property, becomes a critical issue in the management of growth (Razin 1998). This fact alone warrants close scrutiny of the language and content of provincial legislation, that establishes the basis for the actions of local actors in the development of comprehensive growth management plans.

British Columbia's recent enactment of the Growth Strategies Act represents a major step toward establishing province-wide planning principles, as well as guiding the relationship among local government institutions toward achieving comprehensive regional planning. The focus of British Columbia's recent growth management legislation is to achieve some kind of regional plan that cuts across jurisdictional boundaries to address common concerns of the real urban-economic region. The Growth Strategies Act attempts to put into place processes that can lead to the development of regional growth strategies, predominantly at the regional district level facing strong growth and development trends. It should promote planning partnerships among a variety of local, regional and provincial stakeholders, in the interest of developing a sound regional plan. This regional planning process, however, is to be undertaken without legislative interference with the status-quo, in terms of the powers, responsibilities and territory of municipalities or regional districts.

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