After meetings with Michael Harcourt, the Mayors of Langley Township, Abbotsford, Surrey and Coquitlam signed a “Livability Accord” in October of 2007. Mr. Harcourt was the Chair of the Federal Government’s External Advisory Committee on Cities and Communities. The Committee’s report “From Restless Communities to Resilient Places: Building a Stronger Future for all Canadians” provides advice on major issues affecting Canada’s cities and communities. Mayor Kurt Alberts said “the Livability Accord means working together with our neighbours on common interests. A lot of the issues that we face as a local government do not respect municipal boundaries such as crime/drugs, homelessness, traffic, and public transportation. Each of us as separate municipalities are busy trying to figure out: how to cope with growth pressures; how to build healthy communities; how to provide the necessary facilities and services in a way that is financially acceptable to our taxpayers; and how to get the expensive infrastructure needed in a growing community. The Livability Accord will have us work together on those issues.”

The areas represented by the four municipalities will absorb 65% of the population growth of the lower mainland over the next 10 to 25 years. Collectively, the population of the four high growth communities currently totals 750,000 with this number expected to grow to 1.25 million in 2031. A population of 1.25 million would currently rank as the fourth largest city in Canada.

Other levels of government are starting to recognize the important role that cities and communities play in sustaining Canada’s quality of life and the need for adequate funding. There are various infrastructure funding programs and part of the Federal gas tax is starting to be channeled back to local government. But much more is needed, especially, in areas where most of the growth is occurring and will continue for the foreseeable future. The Accord will help the four municipalities focus their collective efforts in identifying the highest priorities. In this way, they can be much more strategic and hopefully much more effective than they would be on their own. The Livability Accord is a way of pooling resources to assist long range planning in each of the municipal planning departments. Public transit and transportation infrastructure is one of the key priorities.