Have Your Say - Urban Containment Boundary

Lions Bay: Are we “general urban” or “rural”(inside or outside the Urban Containment Boundary)?

Issued by Council for the Village of Lions Bay, October 2021.

To read all the information below as a pdf, click here.

Why are we asking this question?

All municipalities in BC belong to a Regional District. Lions Bay is a member municipality of the Metro Vancouver Regional District (MVRD, or “Metro”), previously known as the Greater Vancouver Regional District (GVRD).

When Metro implemented their new bylaw to restrict and regulate the use of residential wood burning appliances, the fact that Lions Bay is designated as urban and identified as being within Metro’s Urban Containment Boundary (UCB), meant we would be subject to additional requirements and ultimately a ban of non-compliant wood stoves and open fireplaces unless manufactured firelogs were used. Communities outside the UCB are not subject to these additional requirements, including the Villages of Anmore and Belcarra, and Bowen Island.

Lions Bay asked to be exempted from the wood burning bylaw in accordance with the community’s wishes (public consultation throughout the Village occurred in 2019). This request was denied by Metro, although an extension for full compliance was granted until September 2032.

When the bylaw came into effect in May this year, over 200 Lions Bay residents signed a request for Council to move Lions Bay outside the UCB.

Council also heard from residents at council meetings and by email. Staff from Metro Vancouver were invited to address Council to answer questions about the difference between “general urban” and “rural” communities, and what the urban containment boundary means in Metro’s plan for the region.

The request received from residents was discussed by Council at its regular meeting on July 27th, 2021, and Council decided to ask the community the question formally: in terms of how we live and how Metro defines urban and rural communities, is Lions Bay “general urban” or “rural”? With the benefit of additional information, Council is asking you to Have Your Say.

How does Metro define an urban community (inside the UCB)?

How does Metro define a rural community (outside the UCB)?
  • Residential neighbourhoods, shopping, services, institutions, recreation, parks - "urban densities"

  • Level of development does not require urban services from Metro (sewer or transit within the community)

  • Place-making, enriched public realm, transit-oriented communities
  • Protect character of rural communities, landscapes, and environmental qualities
  • Transit, multiple-occupancy vehicles, cycling, and walking are the preferred modes of transportation
  • Uses: low-density residential; small-scale commercial, industrial, and institutional uses; agriculture


  • Not intended for future urban development















The answer to this question also determines whether we fall inside or outside the Urban Containment Boundary (UCB).

What is the Urban Containment Boundary?

What is the Urban Containment Boundary?


A key part of Metro’s planning for the region is its regional growth strategy, called Metro 2040, currently being updated to Metro 2050. To support its goals, Metro Vancouver has identified a central area where growth should occur and where necessary infrastructure such as water, waste management, transit and wastewater treatment will be provided to support these urban centres. This area is identified on maps by what is known as the Urban Containment Boundary.


“The Urban Containment Boundary is a stable, long term, regionally defined area for urban development that protects Agricultural, Conservation and Recreation, and Rural lands from developments requiring utility infrastructure and from auto-oriented, dispersed development patterns. Locating housing, regional transportation, and other infrastructure investments within the Urban Containment Boundary supports land development patterns that can protect food producing land, reduce energy demand and greenhouse gas emissions from commuter traffic, and secures land that stores carbon and helps communities adapt to climate change. Residential and employment development is encouraged within the Urban Containment Boundary.” 1


Hence, areas within Metro Vancouver are either inside or outside the Urban Containment Boundary. At this time, Lions Bay is designated as being inside the UCB (see map).


1 Metro 2050 (in draft): www.metrovancouver.org/services/regional-planning/PlanningPublications/DraftMetro2050.pdf)


Will services provided by Metro be affected if we move outside the UCB?


No. Due to our location we do not and will not receive services such as water and wastewater treatment from Metro.


Will we still be able to use the North Vancouver transfer station if we choose to be outside the UCB?


Yes. A rural or urban designation would not make a difference.


Will there be any changes to services from TransLink if we choose to be outside the UCB?


No. A rural or urban designation does not determine bus service levels.


Will we put the school at risk if we choose to be outside the UCB?


No. There is no connection between the UCB and school district boundaries.


Are there any additional costs attached to being inside or outside the UCB?


No. We currently pay around $50,000 per year to belong to Metro Vancouver whether we are inside or outside the UCB. In other words, whether we are urban or rural will not affect the annual cost. There are also no costs associated with changing our designation.


Is there a climate action implication of the UCB?


A key goal of Metro 2050 is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by restricting urban development to central areas that can be served by transit options. Council is very supportive of Climate Action initiatives.


Are there further bylaws being considered that may apply to communities inside versus outside the UCB?


Metro 2050 intends to strengthen the urban containment boundary to achieve its climate action and other goals. Although we cannot say definitively if this will result in additional bylaws, the document differentiates between urban and rural areas and identifies measures that are targeted at urban areas only.


If Lions Bay remains inside the UCB, will I have to register my fireplace/woodstove?


Yes. Registration will start in September 2022. Removal or decommissioning of non-compliant appliances must be completed by 2032. If Lions Bay were outside the UCB, these requirements would not apply to us.


If Lions Bay were outside the UCB, would I be able to burn my woodstove between May 15 and September 15?


No. The seasonal restriction in the wood burning bylaw applies to both those inside and outside the UCB.


Does the UCB designation impact development opportunities?

  • Do we need to be inside the UCB to densify?

No, unless we intend to change the Village’s current single-family residential prominence to widespread multi-family density.

  • Does being inside the UCB require us to densify?

No. Metro’s current goal is that 98% of all development must take place within the UCB. However, this target has been met to date with no contribution from Lions Bay.



Will grant opportunities be impacted by this decision?


No. There are no urban grants that rural communities cannot apply for. Currently grants for rural communities exclude municipalities within Metro Vancouver.


How did Lions Bay come to be inside the UCB?


The concept of a concentrated development area within Metro started in their “Livable Region Strategic Plan” in 1996 which introduced the “Growth Concentration Area”, later replaced by the Urban Containment Boundary. All residential communities were designated as “Urban”, because there was no “Rural” option, but were either inside or outside the “Growth Concentration Area”. Lions Bay was outside the Growth Concentration Area.


  • In 2002, our community drafted Lions Bay’s first Official Community Plan (OCP)2. Lions Bay was outside the Growth Concentration Area.
  • In 2008, the OCP was reviewed in a community-wide process. At that time, Lions Bay was still outside the Growth Concentration Area.
  • In 2009, the “Livable Region Strategic Plan” became “Metro 2040”. The term “Urban Containment Boundary” was introduced to indicate the area formerly known as the “Growth Concentration Area”.
  • In 2011, Lions Bay Council accepted Metro 2040 by resolution, having chosen the “General Urban” designation as being most suitable for Lions Bay rather than the newly-introduced “Rural” designation. This placed the Village inside the Urban Containment Boundary. The OCP was not amended to reflect this change.
  • In 2016, Council amended our OCP by inserting a new Regional Context Statement3 and, for the first time, our OCP bylaw stated that the Village was inside the Urban Containment Boundary. There was no OCP review.


What is the process to change our designation from “General Urban” to “Rural” (in other words, move Lions Bay outside of the UCB)?


Council must enact a resolution that reflects the aspirations of the community to amend the OCP bylaw by changing the Regional Context Statement to reflect that we are “rural” and outside the UCB. Thereafter, the matter must go to the Board of Metro for a vote.


2 What is an Official Community Plan? “The official community plan is a guide for the collective decision making of a community - for its Council, its residents, businesses, and servicing agencies. Its vision, policies, and recommended actions should guide the future of the community.” (from our OCP (Bylaw 408))


3 What is a Regional Context Statement? “Every municipality’s Official Community Plan (OCP) [must] include a Regional Context Statement to demonstrate how the OCP supports the local Regional District’s Regional Growth Strategy.” (from our OCP (Bylaw 408))

Council has compiled background information and a list of Frequently Asked Questions in a Have Your Say brochure you will receive in your mailbox (one response per resident, not one per household). It includes a form for you to weigh in on this question which you should complete and drop off at the office, or scan and email to feedback@lionsbay.ca. You have until Monday, November 15th to reply.




To print and fill out the survey or read the information as a pdf click here