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Metro Vancouver Board Approves Regional Growth Strategy Amendment for the Southlands Development Application

May 23, 2014

Today, the Metro Vancouver Board of Directors gave third reading to a bylaw that would amend the Regional Growth Strategy for portions of the Southlands properties in Delta. The amendment bylaw passed with 93 votes in favour, exceeding the affirmative 2/3 vote required.

The amendment, which was requested by the Corporation of Delta, would change the regional land use designation for portions of the site from Agriculture to General Urban and Conservation and Recreation, and adjust the Urban Containment Boundary to include the new General Urban Areas. The development application presented by local developer Century Group proposes 950 residential units and 80,000 square feet of commercial space on approximately 20% of the land, with the remainder of the lands dedicated to the Corporation of Delta for public ownership.

“The history of the Southlands is very long indeed, but the Southlands application, as it stands today is, in my view, unlike any other proposal and one that includes significant benefits for both Delta and our region as a whole. Of utmost significance is the 80% public ownership component of this proposal – 425 acres of land to be transferred to Delta for agriculture, conservation and public uses,” said Mayor Lois E. Jackson.

The Southlands development proposal calls for 286 acres of the land to be dedicated to agriculture, and includes a $9 million contribution by the developer for drainage and irrigation improvements to enhance agricultural productivity. As part of the proposal, over 100 acres of land will be preserved in its natural state for conservation purposes – these are lands with low agricultural potential, but high environmental values. The public use component of the Southlands application also includes a market square, open space and trails. 

“The Southlands site layout is deliberate in its design to preserve environmentally significant areas. Delta has worked extremely hard to establish principles to ensure that a significant portion of the lands would be actively farmed in a sustainable manner, with an emphasis on soil-based farming,” said Mayor Lois E. Jackson.

With third reading given by the Metro Vancouver Board to the Regional Growth Strategy amendment for portions of the Southlands properties, Century group is now required to complete several conditions and requirements identified by Delta Council as part of a phased development agreement for this development application.

At the Mayor’s request, a report to Council from Delta’s Chief Administrative Officer, George V. Harvie, is forthcoming. The report will provide a framework for Delta to meet with the Agricultural Land Commission to identify the appropriate lands that would be transferred to Delta for inclusion in the Agricultural Land Reserve. The Council report will also outline the process to commence work with local farmers on the development of a detailed plan to undertake agricultural enhancements as outlined in the proposal. This process will enable preparations to get underway immediately to ready the land for farming after Delta Council’s consideration of fourth reading and final adoption.

BACKGROUND

At the January 13, 2014 Regular Meeting, Delta Council endorsed a letter to Metro Vancouver to initiate Delta's request for amendments to the Regional Growth Strategy as part of the Southlands application. On March 28, 2014, in response to Delta’s request, the Metro Vancouver Board initiated procedures for a proposed amendment to Metro 2040 for the Southlands site. The Board also gave 1st and 2nd reading to an amendment bylaw and referred it to a regional public hearing, which was held May 1, 2014. On May 23, 2014, the Metro Vancouver Board gave third reading to the amendment bylaw, with 93 votes in favour and 31 opposed.