Amendments were made to the Regional District of Nanaimo (RDN) Regional Growth Strategy (RGS) Bylaw at the last board meeting as a result of comments made by First Nations and provincial government agencies.
The process to develop an updated RGS has been underway for a few years, said manager of long range planning at the RDN Paul Thompson, but the initial document had too much detail, according to municipal and electoral area representatives.
After details were taken out of the document, a number of agencies made comments they would like to see a higher level of detail. As this is a higher level document, Thompson said, it is not meant to have a lot of detail in it.
“It’s just supposed to provide the direction the RDN and the member municipalities are supposed to take with respect to different issues or sustainability initiatives,” he said.
In light of the new comments, a few minor changes were added to the document to provide clarity, he said, but it wasn’t changed to refer to any specific programs or policies.
The new document recognizes that some lands within the RDN may be transferred to First Nations through the treaty settlement process, and the RGS will then be updated to reflect these changes. Thompson said some changes are likely to happen as treaty settlements are currently in process in the area.
New text was also added to the document to recognize rare coastal Douglas fir ecosystems in the area and that population growth and associated development continue to pose a threat to them.
As requested by the province, wording was changed to match the province’s greenhouse gas targets, until the RDN’s Community Energy and Emissions Plan is finalized.
Text was added to say the RDN will work with the federal and provincial governments with regards to protecting open spaces representative of the regions’s ecosystems and its character and form systems of interconnected areas and natural corridors capable of sustaining native plant and animal communities.
Other minor changes can be viewed through the RDN website.
A public hearing has been postponed due to the late changes and although the board approved a public hearing, a new date has yet to be set. Once it is, the process will take a couple more months, Thompson said, and then the municipalities in the region will have to accept the document before final approval.
What is the regional growth strategy?
A Regional Growth Strategy (RGS) is a strategic plan adopted by the RDN board that defines a regional vision for sustainable growth. It is a commitment made by affected municipalities and regional districts to a course of action involving shared social, economic and environmental goals.
The RGS aims to establish a more sustainable pattern of population growth and development in the region over a 25-year period by encouraging and directing most new development in the region within designated growth containment boundaries thereby keeping urban settlement compact, protecting the integrity of rural and resource areas, protecting the environment, increasing servicing efficiency, and retaining mobility within the region.
The RGS sets the direction for Official Community Plans (OCPs) and other bylaws of member municipalities and the regional district.
Source:RDN website. More details found at www.shapingourfuture.ca/faq.asp.