10 Smart Growth Principles

"Smart growth" is a collection of land use and development principles that aim to enhance our quality of life, preserve the natural environment, and save money over time. Smart growth principles ensure that growth is fiscally, environmentally and socially responsible and recognizes the connections between development and quality of life. Smart growth enhances and completes communities by placing priority on infill, redevelopment, and densification strategies.

The smart growth principles are:

  1. Mix land uses. Each neighbourhood has a mixture of homes, retail, business, and recreational opportunities.
  2. Build well-designed compact neighbourhoods. Residents can choose to live, work, shop and play in close proximity. People can easily access daily activities, transit is viable, and local businesses are supported.
  3. Provide a variety of transportation choices. Neighbourhoods are attractive and have safe infrastructure for walking, cycling and transit, in addition to driving.
  4. Create diverse housing opportunities. People in different family types, life stages and income levels can afford a home in the neighbourhood of their choice.
  5. Encourage growth in existing communities. Investments in infrastructure (such as roads and schools) are used efficiently, and developments do not take up new land.
  6. Preserve open spaces, natural beauty, and environmentally sensitive areas. Development respects natural landscape features and has higher aesthetic, environmental, and financial value.
  7. Protect and enhance agricultural lands. A secure and productive land base, such as BC's Agricultural Land Reserve, provides food security, employment, and habitat, and is maintained as an urban containment boundary.
  8. Utilize smarter, and cheaper infrastructure and green buildings. Green buildings and other systems can save both money and the environment in the long run.
  9. Foster a unique neighbourhood identity. Each community is unique, vibrant, diverse, and inclusive.
  10. Nurture engaged citizens. Places belong to those who live, work, and play there. Engaged citizens participate in community life and decision-making.

Our Position on Greenfield Development

Greenfields are previously undeveloped land including restored land, agricultural areas, forests, parks, and natural areas. Greenfields may or may not be within defined urban containment boundaries, and may or may not be currently zoned for future use. In general, infill, redevelopment, and densification strategies are preferred to greenfield development.
Development of a greenfield site may or may not be consistent with smart growth, depending upon its location and adherence to all other smart growth principles.
A greenfield development may be consistent with smart growth if the location of the development is contiguous to an existing developed community, and its development extends, augments, enhances and completes the community.

A greenfield development would not be consistent with smart growth if it provides smart growth elements, such as transit and mixed uses, but is  discontiguous from existing development and servicing (even if it is located within an urban containment boundary). Similarly, greenfield development would not be consistent with smart growth if it was located on land currently within the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR) or on land that has been recently removed from the ALR with the intent of urbanization.


Alternatives to Greenfields

Alternatives to greenfield development include redevelopment of built sites, infill, brownfield and greyfield development. Brownfields are sites that have previously been or are in current use by industrial operations. Greyfields are sites that have previously been or are in current use by commercial operations.