The RGS aims to establish a more sustainable pattern of population growth and development in the region over a twenty-five year period by encouraging and directing most new development in the region within designated Growth Containment Boundaries [See: What is a Growth Containment Boundary?], 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.
After the adoption of the RGS, municipalities have a two year period in which to prepare or update Regional Context Statements in their OCPs. The Regional Context Statement is then submitted to the Regional District of Nanaimo Board for consideration.
The RGS sets the direction for Official Community Plans (OCPs) and other bylaws of member municipalities and the regional district. An OCP must include a Regional Context Statement, to describe how it either does, or will become consistent over time with the direction set by the RGS.
Aside from requiring that OCPs include Regional Context Statements, the RGS allows municipalities flexibility with respect to how they choose to implement policies and be consistent with the direction set by the RGS.
Electoral Areas Affected by the RGS
The RGS provides a framework for member municipalities and the RDN to coordinate growth management issues that cross municipal boundaries. The RGS also provides a mechanism to connect with provincial ministries and agencies who have jurisdiction in areas that impact land use and community planning and whose resources are needed to implement projects and programs. Inter jurisdictional coordination is essential to protecting our environment and achieving a high quality of life for present and future residents in the region.
A strong component of the RGS is focusing growth into specific areas to avoid urban sprawl and promote settlement patterns that follow the principles of Smart Growth. The RGS establishes a pattern of land use intended to support the creation of Complete, Compact Communities.
Since 2008, Provincial regulations require RGS's to include targets for the reduction of GHG's and establish policies and actions with respect to achieving those targets. By influencing land use patterns and associated transportation choices, a RGS can have a major influence on reducing green house gas (GHG) emissions and mitigating the negative impacts of climate change. A regional growth strategy can also plan for future energy supply using alternate sources while also promoting the efficient use and conservation of existing resources.
The challenges addressed by the RGS cannot be adequately undertaken by individual jurisdictions on their own. An important benefit of the RGS is that it provides a framework that encourages inter-jurisdictional coordination and cooperation between the regional district and municipalities to address regional issues that affect all local governments. This allows for more effective implementation to better address sustainability issues and economies of scale for undertaking projects jointly.
In addition to policies carried out through land use and community planning, other departments of the RDN will also implement the RGS through their own policies and programs (For example, Parks and Recreation, Regional and Community Utilities, Transportation and Solid Waste Services).
Implementation Agreements are another tool under the Local Government Act, to coordinate the actions between local and provincial jurisdictions to implement the RGS. An Implementation Agreement is a commitment by local and provincial jurisdictions to implement specified content of the RGS. Implementation Agreements will be developed, following the completion of the current RGS review and adoption of the revised RGS by the Board.
A review of the RGS must be considered every five years to ensure that the document remains relevant to the growth concerns of the region. The regional district must also continuously monitor the actions in relation to the implementation of the RGS, and prepare annual progress reports in regards to the implementation.
The RDN is responsible for monitoring the implementation of the RGS and preparing annual implementation reports.
The RDN and member municipalities must make reasonable efforts to reach an agreement on the RGS content. If they are unable to reach consensus on an essential provision of the RGS, then the Minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development is consulted to determine the most appropriate means for dispute resolution. The consultation with the Minister is deemed to be the last resort for the settlement of the RGS process, and the cost is incurred by the local governments involved.
For municipalities, OCPs must include a Regional Context Statement that explains how the OCP is consistent with the direction established in the RGS. Where an OCP is not consistent with the RGS, the context statement must explain how the OCP will be made consistent over time.
For electoral areas, the goals, objectives and policies in an OCP must not be in conflict with the goals and policies of the regional growth strategy. Section 865(1) of the Local Government Act requires that: All bylaws adopted by a regional district board after the board has adopted a regional growth strategy, and all services undertaken by a regional district after the board has adopted a regional growth strategy, must be consistent with the regional growth strategy. This means that an electoral area OCP, because it is adopted by bylaw, must be consistent with the RGS.
Please note that the term Urban Containment Boundary (UCB) was used in current and previous versions of the Regional Growth Strategy. Please see the question 'What is the Urban Containment Boundary'.