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Regional District Planning


Planning in the regional district context deals with land use, social and community services, housing, cultural and heritage resources, economic development, finance, environment, transportation and infrastructure.

Regional districts are faced with developing plans for many different communities because their geographic boundaries are quite large and their communities are often dispersed. Regional district boards have a range of land use planning tools available to assist them with this responsibility (i.e. community planning, development cost charges, social planning, environmental planning, heritage planning, zoning, Board of Variance, development variance permits and subdivision approval).

Regional district planning is similar to municipal planning but with the following differences:

  • the procedures for adopting an Official Community Plan are not the same;
  • there is greater involvement for the minister in certain land use matters; and
  • regional districts have the authority to prepare a regional growth strategy (RGS)

A RGS recognizes that there are strategic or regional issues that cross municipal and regional district boundaries. The impacts of growth of follow geographical, not political boundaries, and responses to the impacts of growth requires a collaborative approach.

A RGS is a formal tool which has been used successfully in almost all of BC's highest growth areas. Based on a time horizon of twenty years or longer, an RGS provides a framework for the strategic level cooperation and coordination among regional districts, municipalities and the province. It focuses on key issues that must be managed at a regional scale, such as housing, transportation, regional district services, parks and natural areas and economic development. In addition a RGS must also cover social, economic and environmental objectives, population and employment projects and a list of actions required to meet the projected needs for the population.

A RGS normally covers the entire regional district. However, the minister can authorize preparation at a sub-regional or multi-regional district level.

There are also a variety of non-statutory mechanisms which regional districts use to develop solutions to shared regional problems. These include regional issues assessments, co-ordinated community planning, inter-jurisdictional agreements and regional strategies.

Residents and other interested parties play an important role in deciding how their community will develop by making their views know to their regional district. The development of plans and bylaws usually provides opportunities for public consultation through public hearings or other means. In addition, regional district boards can receive recommendations from residents and others about land use planning issues by creating an Advisory Planning Commission.


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