Metro Vancouver is appealing a court decision in favour of the Township of Langley that has thrown into question the regional district’s ability to control urban sprawl.
B.C. Supreme Court Judge Neena Sharma last month ruled in favour of Langley, which Metro took to court for rezoning land in breach of the regional growth strategy.
“For us, this isn’t a Langley issue,” Metro board chair Greg Moore said. “This ruling is too important to the regional growth legislation. It has implications not just for Metro but for every other regional district that has a regional growth strategy.”
He said Metro believes the judge didn’t correctly interpret the regional district’s authority under the Local Government Act in deciding Metro’s powers don’t supercede a municipality’s decisions within its boundaries.
The ruling’s logic that a rezoning affecting only one municipality can’t be considered regionally significant makes no sense, he added, because no rezoning would ever qualify.
Moore said the issue is not the zoning changes the township wanted – creating a university district with campus housing and shops around Trinity Western University – but that the municipality believed it didn’t have to subject that change to a vote of the regional board, as set out in the regional growth strategy all Metro cities signed.
Metro’s growth strategy aims to concentrate urban-style growth in town centres and keep it out of farmland and rural areas.
Langley Township Mayor Jack Froese called Metro’s appeal “unfortunate” and predicted the regional district will lose again.
“We can’t just lie down and let Metro Vancouver walk all over us,” Froese said.
He said the legal battle has cost Langley $50,000 so far, with Metro’s legal bills likely twice as much.
“It’s disturbing that this much tax dollars are going into a squabble.”
– with files from Dan Ferguson