Regional Growth Strategies
A regional growth strategy (RGS) is a local government strategic
plan to promote human settlement that is socially, economically and
environmentally healthy and that makes 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 ten regional
districts within the three higher growth areas of the province
with completed regional growth strategies. More information on RGSs is provided
below and you can also download:
An RGS is initiated, prepared and enacted by a regional district,
with the full involvement of its member municipalities, provincial
agencies and others. The legislation enables any regional district
to voluntarily initiate a regional growth strategy by resolution of
its board. No provincial government approval is required for the
initiation or enactment of an RGS.
The Local Government Act outlines the following minimum content requirements for any strategy, although the rest of an RGS is largely left up to the local governments:
There are fourteen matters that the RGS should consider such as:
Beyond that, a regional district may custom design a strategy that
fits local circumstances by adding other matters which cross local
government boundaries and cannot be addressed by one jurisdiction.
The process for preparing a growth strategy is also largely left up to each region. Some regional districts undertake extensive research and assess a number of options, while others move through the process more quickly.
The legislation does require that the regional district consult with individuals, organizations and authorities who they consider will be affected by the strategy, and adopt a consultation plan in this regard.
The RGS is enacted by a bylaw of the regional board.
Although not required, a public hearing provides the formal opportunity for input that is customary for land use planning and zoning bylaws.
The most effective plans are those where there is "buy-in" to the
process, ongoing involvement and commitment from all affected
agencies. The legislation provides two mechanisms to achieve
consensus and positive working relationships.
Once a regional district has initiated an RGS, an Intergovernmental
Advisory Committee is established. This committee provides a forum
for senior local government staff, senior provincial staff and
representatives of other authorities, to advise the regional board
on the development of the RGS and to help coordinate actions,
policies and programs as they relate to the strategy.
In addition, prior to adoption of the RGS bylaw, the regional board
must refer the RGS for the acceptance any municipality within the
areas covered by the strategy and adjoining regional districts.
Dispute resolution procedures
(206 KB) are available to assist the parties
reach agreement on solutions to unresolved issues.
Once an RGS has been adopted, all subsequent regional district
bylaws and all works and services undertaken by the regional
district must be consistent with the strategy. The Local Government
Act recognizes that a regional district cannot implement an RGS on
its own and requires the cooperation and assistance of
municipalities, the provincial government and other organizations.
It gives local governments the authority to enter into
"implementation agreements" with other local governments, levels of
government and agencies to implement the actions and policies of the RGS.
The legislation also requires that all municipal official community
plans be updated within two years to include a "regional context
statement". The Regional Context Statement sets out the relationship
between the RGS and the official community plan and how they will be
made compatible over time. The context statement is subject to
acceptance by the regional district, to ensure the municipality and
the region agree that the two documents are compatible. Once again,
dispute resolution processes are available to resolve disagreements
if they arise.
Following adoption of an RGS, the legislation requires the regional
district to establish a monitoring program, to prepare an annual
report for the public and, at least once every five years, to
consider whether the strategy should be reviewed.
Development and implementation of an RGS takes patience and
commitment from all parties involved. The strategic regional level
issues that are addressed are challenging and may be complex.
Tangible benefits and cost savings may take time, but with
perseverance, improved working relationships and resolution of
shared issues, benefits can be achieved.