Something I like to do every few years in this column is to undertake some hypothetical experiments with municipal boundaries. Given that we have municipal elections coming up and candidates declaring themselves left, right and centre, now seems like a great time to try again.
First, remember that the lines between Langley City and Township, Pitt Meadows and Maple Ridge, Burnaby, Vancouver, New West, and all the rest are contingent and somewhat arbitrary. There’s no reason why Vancouver shouldn’t be three cities (like it used to be – South Vancouver and Point Gray were independent until 1929).
So here are some ideas, if we could erase the lines and start from scratch.
• Mega City Surrey (and Vancouver)
It used to be that people loved giving Surrey a rhetorical kick, but it will be BC’s largest municipality by population in five to 10 years.
And once it’s bigger than Vancouver, why shouldn’t it be bigger still?
Every now and then someone wants to do to Metro Vancouver what was done to Toronto and Montreal when they absorbed their suburbs and became megacities.
It’s never happened here, but maybe it should? But not with Vancouver at the center. After all, there is this great river that divides our metropolitan area in two.
So why not two megacities?
Vancouver can gobble up Burnaby and New West and the Tri Cities.
But Surrey will get everything from Delta to Abbotsford. Richmond can flip a coin to decide where it goes.
• Aldergrove Secession
Aldergrove is far from forgotten in local politics, but with the township of Langley increasingly weighted by population to the west, and with a wide division of rural land between Aldergrove and the next nearest ward, it Langley has the least in common with his siblings of Murrayville, Fort Langley, Brookswood, etc.
And the town of Aldergrove?
It could also encompass Gloucester and Glen Valley, and perhaps some bits of the Abbotsford countryside. A vibrant and compact village center, serving rural farms and several regional parks. Seems like a more organic community than most!
• Government by bioregion
Or, we could build our municipalities based on water flow.
The people of the Salmon River watershed all have at least one thing in common. The same goes for those who live above the Brookswood aquifer or the Nicomekl floodplain.
Why not divide municipal boundaries according to bioregions – areas that collectively share watersheds and aquifers? Governance would shift from smaller bioregions to larger ones, so the largest regional governments would be the Fraser River Basin Council and the Serpentine River Council. All of this, of course, would fall under the Greater Salish Sea District, which would also include Greater Victoria and Nanaimo.