Metro Vancouver

This page provides basic information about Metro Vancouver: what it is; what it does for the region; its management plans; and its emphasis on sustainability. Also, the roles of TransLink, the Mayors' Council on Regional Transportation and Metro Vancouver in relation to regional transportation are briefly explained.

Much of the information on this page, including the map, has been obtained from the Metro Vancouver website. For further details, see that site.

To jump to a specific topic, click on the links below:

Metro Vancouver in Brief

Metro Vancouver is the regional government for the Lower Mainland. It delivers services, has planning and regulatory responsibility for the region, and serves as a political forum for the discussion of issues at the regional level.

This map shows the Metro Vancouver region and the municipal and Electoral Area members:

Map of Metro Vancouver

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Board of Directors

Metro Vancouver is governed by a Board of Directors. The Board consists of 40 Directors representing 21 municipalities, Electoral Area A, the Tsawwassen First Nation, and the City of Abbotsford (which is a member of Metro Vancouver only for the parks function). All Directors, other than the Director representing the Electoral Area, are members of a municipal or First Nations council and are appointed to the Board by their council. The Director representing the Electoral Area is the only Director who is elected to the position.

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GVRD and Metro Vancouver

If you have heard of the Greater Vancouver Regional District (GVRD) you may be wondering what the difference is between it and Metro Vancouver. This is a point of confusion for many people. The short answer is that there is no difference. Metro Vancouver is the name that was adopted in 2007 to be used in place of the GVRD name.

More precisely, Metro Vancouver is actually an umbrella name for four corporations through which the work of the regional government is conducted. These are:

  • Greater Vancouver Regional District
  • Greater Vancouver Sewerage and Drainage District
  • Greater Vancouver Water District
  • Metro Vancouver Housing Corporation

Depending on the context, the name Metro Vancouver may refer to any of these entities.

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Services Delivered

The core services provided by Metro Vancouver are: drinking water, sewerage and drainage, and solid waste management. Such services are most efficiently organized and delivered on a regional basis, rather than by each municipality. Metro Vancouver deals with municipalities and other entities in connection with these services, not directly with residents. The water, sewerage and solid waste utilities represent almost 85% of Metro Vancouver's budgeted expenditures.

In addition, Metro Vancouver provides some services directly to the public, including regional parks, affordable housing, and the 9-1-1 emergency phone number. Air quality management is a further Metro Vancouver service.

Planning and Regulation

Metro Vancouver's main areas of planning and regulatory responsibility relate to: regional growth, utilities (especially waste management), air quality, and parks. The Planning link at the top of the Metro Vancouver Home page provides access to extensive information on planning activities.

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Management Plans

Metro Vancouver has invested a considerable effort over the last decade in developing a number of management plans for the region. These plans set out a comprehensive approach to regional responsibilities and initiatives. Among these are plans for drinking water, liquid waste management, and solid waste management. For a complete listing of the plans, with links, see Metro Vancouver's Management Plans page.

Regional Growth Strategy

In July 2011, Metro Vancouver adopted the Regional Growth Strategy. This important 80-page document focuses on land use policies to guide the future development of the region and support the efficient provision of transportation, regional infrastructure and community services.

The Regional Growth Strategy looks out to 2040 and provides a framework for accommodating the over 1 million people and 600,000 new jobs that are expected to come to Metro Vancouver in the next 30 years. Key goals of the Regional Growth Strategy are to focus growth within urban areas and to protect agricultural land, industrial land, and natural areas.

Action Plans

Each year Metro Vancouver prepares an Action Plan. The Plan provides specific targets for Metro Vancouver's work in the following year. Starting in 2011, the emphasis in the Action Plans has shifted from the development of management plans to their implementation. The 2013 Action Plan can be found here.

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Metro Vancouver places the concept of sustainability at the centre of its planning and operating philosophy and acts as a leader in making the region one which is explicitly committed to a sustainable future. This comprehensive endeavour has become known as the Sustainable Region Initiative (SRI).

Metro Vancouver's commitment to sustainability is set out in its Sustainability Framework document, adopted by the Board in 2008. This document outlines the foundation for Metro Vancouver's planning and operations. The elements of the Sustainability Framework are reflected in all Metro Vancouver activities.

The Sustainable Region Initiative is driven by the following imperatives:

  • Have regard for both local and global consequences and long term impacts
  • Recognize and reflect the interconnectedness and interdependence of systems
  • Be collaborative

Following from these are three principles for decision making:

  • Protect and enhance the natural environment
  • Provide for ongoing prosperity
  • Build community capacity and social cohesion

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Responsibility for Transportation System

The responsibility for the transportation system within the Metro Vancouver region lies mainly with TransLink and the Mayors' Council on Regional Transportation.

TransLink is the regional transportation authority for the Metro Vancouver region. It is responsible for regional transit, cycling and commuting options. In particular, TransLink is responsible for the planning, financing and managing of all public transit. Also, TransLink shares with municipalities the responsibility for the Major Road Network and regional cycling.

The Mayors' Council on Regional Transportation performs several functions. One is to approve certain plans prepared by TransLink, including supplemental transportation plans, regional funding, and borrowing limits. Another is to appoint directors to the TransLink Board from a list of candidates provided by a screening panel. The Mayors' Council consists of the mayors of each of the 21 member municipalities of Metro Vancouver, the chief of the Tsawwassen First Nation, and the Director of Electoral Area A.

Metro Vancouver does not have a direct role in the transportation system. Rather, it provides advice and input to the other entities to ensure that transportation plans are consistent with Metro Vancouver's regional land use and other objectives. TransLink is required to seek input from Metro Vancouver on its long range transportation plans and its borrowing limit increases.

Thus, plans for the improvement and funding of public transit, such as along the Broadway corridor, are the responsibility of TransLink. Approval must be obtained from the Mayors' Council. Metro Vancouver's limited role is to ensure that the plans for improvement are consistent with its regional objectives.

(Some of the above information comes from the TransLink website.)

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