Business continues barrage against Regional Growth Strategy — after all, it has no plan to raise incomes

Who is responsible for ensuring the economic well-being of the 22 municipalities that make up Metro Vancouver?

According to BC Business Council economist Jock Finlayson, it’s Metro Vancouver itself, the regional body that oversees water, liquid waste, garbage and overall land use.

Finlayson is the latest business leader to slam the Regional Growth Strategy in the Vancouver Sun, blaming  hapless Metro Vancouver planners for a scheme he says will maintain the region’s low median incomes.

Metro planners have been accused of many things, but this is the first time they have been called out for perpetuating poverty.

“The RGS is essentially a land use plan,” Finlayson complains, “dressed up as a strategy for managing growth.”

Vancouver’s median income is 20th out of 28 urban areas in Canada, he says, making us a low-income area along with Toronto and Montreal. That’s what the RGS should tackle.

“A well-balanced regional growth plan would include commitments to build an economic climate that attracts and retains jobs, to smart and efficient regulation, to value-for money in services and taxation, and to coordinated, region-wide efforts to bolster the Lower Mainland’s competitive position in a North American context.”

But as Finlayson well knows, such an economic strategy has never been Metro’s mandate. In fact, the absence of a regional economic development strategy has been an embarassing reality for years, despite many efforts to create one.< Is this Metro's fault? Or does the business community have some responsibility to plan for the future? Finlayson is a capable critic, but in this article he has left out the real reasons for the business opposition to the plan: it is too protective of agricultural and industrial land, and adds an extra layer of public oversight. Nonetheless, it's hard to oppose the idea of an economic strategy to raise median incomes while controlling the runaway cost of housing -- anyone with that plan has a sure vote-getter.