The CEO of Metro Vancouver says the regional government and the city of Coquitlam are close to starting negotiations on the regional growth strategy (RGS).
But Coquitlam Mayor Richard Stewart said the two government bodies are as far apart as ever and he doesn't know when the first meeting will be.
Last week, CEO Johnny Carline told The Tri-City News the process for the non-binding resolution is now being ironed out. Coquitlam is the only Lower Mainland municipality opposing the blueprint that will replace the outdated Liveable Regional Strategic Plan.
Metro Vancouver politicians had asked for arbitration to resolve the impasse but the provincial government sided with Coquitlam and ruled the dispute was to be mediated. The 60-day non-binding process was supposed to have started last Monday.
"We're trying to get a lot of work done by the start of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities' conference in early June," Carline said, adding that Metro Vancouver and Coquitlam have until June 30 to wrap up their work.
Other municipal officials will be invited to participate in the mediation but the public won't. "We've already had a public hearing," Carline said.
Stewart said he's disappointed with the delays.
"We put forward a motion that started this process six weeks ago," he said. "We would have been done by now but we still haven't got Metro Vancouver to agree to the conditions of the mediation."
Metro Vancouver "has disagreed with much of the legislative requirements and many of the suggestions from the minister and her staff, to the point where I have less and less confidence that both parties want this to be resolved amicably," he said.
Coquitlam councillors say the plan is too inconsistent from city to city because multiple exemptions were made to win each council's approval.
Its objections are backed by a coalition of business groups - made up of the BC Chamber of Commerce, Business Council of BC and Urban Development Institute - that is pressing Metro Vancouver to pull the plug on the RGS because it believes it could stifle job creation and stunt development.
Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan, chair of Metro Vancouver's regional planning committee, countered that the business groups had years and multiple rounds of public consultations to table their concerns.
- with files from Jeff Nagel, Black Press