Metro Vancouver’s Green Zone
“The Green Zone is our legacy for future generations.”
Former Port Coquitlam Mayor Len Trabouley
Vancouver has a reputation for its natural beauty, but few are aware that a decision was made years ago to ensure it stays that way.
Photograph by: Dan Toulgoet , Vancouver Courier
As part of the first Liveable Region Strategic Plan established for Metro Vancouver in 1996, approximately 70% the region was set aside and designated a Green Zone, protecting Metro Vancouver natural assets, including major parks, watersheds, and ecologically important areas. Burnaby Lake, the North Shore mountains and watersheds, Burns Bog, and Stanley Park are all part of the Green Zone.
A more well known regional planning decision was Metro Vancouver’s decision to establish an Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) that would designate and protect farm land around the region. Most residents are aware of the ALR. It is often in the news as it comes under threat from industrial and commercial development; however few people know about Metro Vancouver’s Green Zone.
Metro Vancouver’s Green Zone
According to Ken Cameron and Mike Harcourt in their book, “City Making in Paradise”, The Green Zone solidified a quality that was setting Metro Vancouver apart from other cities around the world - establishing the region as “cities in a sea of green.”
Lands were identified by Metro Vancouver’s municipalities for inclusion in the Green Zone. Significant consultation and technical review was undertaken and ultimately, the Green Zone comprised the lands that municipalities designated to be protected from urban development.
“The common feature of lands to be included in the Green Zone,” said former Surrey Mayor Bob Bose, “is that they are not to be urbanized. They can have many other uses, but they are aside from urban development.”
Burnaby Lake - When lived in the area, I used to run around here and watch the beavers come out of hiding at dusk.
In addition to protecting local parks and forests, the Green Zone provided a boundary to contain urban development. Metro Vancouver can only sprawl out so much within the confines of the Green Zone. This makes it easier for municipalities to focus on building compact, complete communities and improving public transit - the other pillars of Metro Vancouver’s Liveable Region Strategic Plan.
Regional planning is not the sexiest thing when it come to urban issues, but I always found it interesting and reassuring to know that a bunch of public servants and elected officials made a formal decision to protect our green space.
Photo credit: Ecstaticist on Flickr
P.S. Sorry for the delayed post! I’ve been under the weather, but am on the mend and back to posting weekly.
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