It’s a new plan to help guide growth in Delta and the rest of region.
Metro Vancouver’s board of directors on Feb. 24 adopted an updated growth strategy, Metro 2050, which is also to protect important lands from development and support the efficient provision of urban infrastructure like transit and utilities.
“The adoption of this plan is a significant achievement,” said George Harvie, chair of the regional district’s board and Delta’s mayor, in a news release. “It represents a commitment by every member in the regional federation, TransLink, and neighbouring regional districts to work together in the spirit of collaboration for the sake of future generations. I know we all believe that together we make our region strong.”
The regional district says Metro 2050 builds on the strengths of the previous strategy, Metro Vancouver 2040: Shaping our Future. The comprehensive update was undertaken to address climate change, affordable housing concerns and recent growth projections, and to fully align with Transport 2050, the region’s transportation strategy.
New regional targets include protecting 50 per cent of the land base for nature, expanding tree canopy cover in the Urban Containment Boundary to 40 per cent and ensuring that at least 15 per cent of new and redeveloped housing units in Urban Centres and along frequent transit corridors are affordable rental homes.
Already endorsed by Delta council, the growth strategy has been in the works by Metro Vancouver since 2019.
According to Metro 2050, Delta is projected to have a population increase of 26,000 residents over the next 28 years.
Anticipating Delta will have a population of 123,000 by 2050, the strategy projects the region to grow by 35,000 people per year.
Proposing how to accommodate that growth within a land-constrained region, Metro 2050 has new policy considerations for housing, transit and mobility, employment and other issues.
According to Delta planning staff last year, the plan has strengthened in areas addressing regional livability, urban forest targets, ecologically sensitive areas, the concentration of growth surrounding transit corridors and the protection of agricultural land.
Community Planning Director Marcy Sangret told council that staff recognized that Delta's Official Community Plan (OCP) should be revisited under Metro 2050.
The city will be required to update its regional context statement, which outlines Delta's land use designations and where growth is anticipated and being directed.
Recent changes such the introduction of the Delta Housing Action Plan and changes to the Ladner Area Plan will help create more opportunities for housing and amenities, Sangret explained.
A previous Delta staff report on Metro’s draft Metro 2050 noted that, overall, it is an appropriate plan for the region, bearing in mind the uniqueness of Delta's geography and demographic makeup.
It also appears to be in line with other regional plans and generally aligns with the City of Delta's plans as well, although some key gaps and areas for improvement had been identified.
Among the concerns outlined in the Delta report was that Metro 2050 needs to address the need for wider access to transit, even in those areas which are not included within the “Urban Centre” or “Frequent Transit Development Area” designations.
The report also identified housing and land issues, noting Delta with its three distinct, separated communities, is challenged to achieve regional objectives related to population growth and location.
Also, given the importance of agricultural lands to Delta and the region as a whole, Delta staff noted that the revised definition of agricultural lands in Metro 2050 appeared to open possibilities around the use of agricultural land that previously did not exist.
“In addition, Metro 2050 has removed the emphasis on food production stipulation for agricultural land, which should be carefully considered in the context of the use of agricultural lands for cannabis production and the need for regional food security,” the report added.
The report warned the strategies around trade-oriented lands in Metro 2050 pose potential land use conflicts related to agricultural and environmentally sensitive lands in a municipality like Delta.