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Land Use Plan: Frequently Asked Questions

What is Port Metro Vancouver’s Land Use Plan?
The plan is a high level policy document and framework to guide the development of the port’s land and waters for the next 15 to 20 years. It is similar to a municipal official community plan and identifies the types of uses that are appropriate within different areas of Port Metro Vancouver’s jurisdiction. 

What is included in the Land Use Plan?
The Land Use Plan includes goals, policies and land use designations to guide planning in all areas across Port Metro Vancouver’s jurisdiction. It also identifies implementation measures to ensure Port Metro Vancouver works towards the identified goals.

Why does the Land Use Plan need to be updated?
In accordance with the Canadian Government and the Canada Marine Act, Port Metro Vancouver must have a Land Use Plan. Our new Land Use Plan replaces three different plans from the former Fraser River, North Fraser and Vancouver Port Authorities, which amalgamated in 2008. We need an updated plan that addresses where we are today and the anticipated future of the port identified in the Port 2050 process.

Is there adequate industrial land available in the region to meet trade requirements today and in the future?
We know that the region’s current inventory of market-ready industrial lands is sufficient to meet demand for only about eight to 15 years. With a population increase of one million people expected by 2041, it is critical for us to protect the industrial lands which create jobs and stimulate the economy. 

The Land Use Plan will help ensure Port Metro Vancouver manages the industrial land within its jurisdiction. However, other industrial land throughout the region must also be protected.
We believe that an industrial land reserve, or similar policy framework, should be developed to protect valuable industrial land throughout the region for economic development. This would also relieve pressure on agricultural land. 

What is the purpose of the goals, objectives and policy directions in the plan?
• A goal is a broad statement of what is to be accomplished and clarifies the “ends” that the organization is aiming to achieve. 
• An objective also is a statement of what is to be accomplished but at a greater level of detail than the goal.
• A policy direction describes the action we will take to accomplish the goals and objectives. They are the “means” to achieve the “ends” described in the goals and objectives. While we’ve grouped policy directions under specific goals and objectives, the actions they describe can affect more than one goal.

What is the purpose of designations?
Land use designations provide guidelines on what uses are – and aren’t – allowed in a certain area. They are essential for managing land responsibly, and provide clarity on long-term development. The designations are important because they provide consistency and understanding on how land and water can be used, ensuring that potential for growth, sustainability, and safety can be enjoyed both today and in the future. 

Is there a detailed, large-scale map of all the designations?
A map of Port Metro Vancouver’s designations is available at  

What’s the difference between a primary use and a conditional use?
A primary use is the main intended use of a specific designation. A conditional use is a use that may be permitted, subject to specific regulations on a case-by-case basis. For example, a site might be designated industrial, but it could allow for a range of conditional uses ranging from log storage to conservation, depending on the specific situation. This allows for more flexibility in long-term planning.

All conditional uses are subject to Port Metro Vancouver’s determination of their appropriateness in a given context. For more information, go to pages 46 and 47 of the Land Use Plan.

Are there protected areas within the land and water use planning areas? If so, where?
Conservation areas have been identified throughout our jurisdiction. In fact, a number of the changes we’ve made are to advance conservation in areas that are adjacent to conservation or recreational sites. Most of the existing designations also allow for conservation as a “conditional use” under the right circumstances. 11 per cent of Port Metro Vancouver’s jurisdiction has been designated conservation or recreation.

Why doesn’t the Land Use Plan designate many of the areas at the mouth of the Fraser River? 
Port Metro Vancouver managed provincially-owned water at the mouth of the Fraser River for 35 years under a “head lease agreement.” Our agreement with the Province expires at the end of 2014, when responsibility will transfer to the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations. We will continue to administer a small section of Fraser River foreshore within federal jurisdiction and will maintain responsibility for upland areas. All existing tenants have been notified of this change.

What is a Special Study Area?
Special Study Areas mean Port Metro Vancouver will engage in additional study, consultation and planning to determine their future use, and any change to their designation would be made through a Land Use Plan amendment. Until this is completed, the current use remains unchanged. 
For example, the area east of Canada Place located in the Central Waterfront area of Vancouver is a Special Study Area.

What is the future of the three pieces of agricultural land owned by Port Metro Vancouver?
The three pieces of agricultural land located in Richmond have been designated as Special Study Areas and so their current use remains unchanged.

We believe if an industrial land reserve, or similar policy framework were to be created, it would relieve pressure on agricultural land and protect valuable industrial land for economic development. 

How much consultation did Port Metro Vancouver undertake as part of the Land Use Plan?
Since the Land Use Plan project began almost three years ago, we engaged with over 1,000 people representing municipalities, First Nations, government agencies, environmental organizations, businesses, industries, and members of the public.

The Canada Marine Act requires port authorities to hold one public meeting and to advertise the adoption of its Land Use Plan. 

What did you hear in the consultation?
Overall, people supported creation of a single, cohesive land use plan. Requests which were added to the plan included:
• Protecting industrial land and being more efficient in using the remaining supply of industrial land
• Protecting conservation areas and habitat
• Providing more clarity on Special Study Areas, the land use plan amendment process, and conditional uses
• Adding implementation actions and timelines

What changes did you make as a result of the consultation?
We carefully considered every request from the community, but we also had to balance diverse perspectives. We did our best to incorporate suggestions that were both within the scope of a Land Use Plan and aligned with Port Metro Vancouver’s mandate to support Canada’s competitiveness and trade priorities. The full list of consultation input and our responses is available online

The following are examples of some changes we made:
• At the request of Port Moody, we designated a large area at the head of the inlet as Conservation.
• At the request of the District and City of North Vancouver, we designated a number of sites as Conservation, due to ecological sensitivity. We also changed some policies to include considering community impacts.
• We added a new goal on consultation and engagement.
• We added an implementation section that identifies the actions and timelines we will take to implement the goals and objectives of the plan.

I took part in the Land Use Plan consultation but don’t see my comments reflected in the final plan. Where are they?
We carefully reviewed every comment received during the consultation. We weighed these comments with the scope of what could be achieved in a land use plan, as well as Port Metro Vancouver’s mandate to support Canada’s trade competitiveness and objectives. For the full consultation summary and our detailed responses to all consultation input, please look at our past consultation materials

How does the Land Use Plan protect the environment?
One of the plan’s core goals is for Port Metro Vancouver to “be a global leader among ports in the environmental stewardship of the lands and waters it manages.” The objectives and policy directions accompanying this goal, as well as Section 5.3 on Environmental Stewardship, Section 9.2 on Environmental Review and Section 10.3 on Implementation Measures, outline the actions that Port Metro Vancouver will take to protect the environment. 

How are you going to turn the Land Use Plan’s policies into action?
We developed a set of implementation measures and a timeline to identify what actions we need to take. The timelines identify actions as short, medium, and long-term. They also identify potential partners to carry out the actions.

How will I know if my development is in accordance with the new Land Use Plan?
If you are considering a development project on port land or water, please read the Land Use Plan, review the Project Review and Permits Guide, and then contact us.

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