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Complete Communities and Urban Centres


What are complete communities?

Complete communities are walkable, mixed use, and transit-oriented places where people can live, work, and play at all ages and stages of their lives, with close access to most of their daily needs.

Creating complete communities helps reduce greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution by reducing the distances that people need to travel on a daily basis. This includes access to a range of employment opportunities and health, social, cultural, educational, and recreational services and amenities. Planning for complete communities is integral to supporting positive mental and physical health, overall well-being, and helps meet the needs of a diverse population to promote inclusion and accessibility. This is especially important in the region’s urban centres.

What is an urban centre?

​Urban centres are transit-oriented communities with diverse populations, a range of employment opportunities, public spaces, and lively cultural and entertainment amenities. These characteristics make urban centres ideal locations to direct and accommodate growth in our region.

Metro Vancouver has a network of 26 connected urban centres ranging in size and character. The Metro Core and Surrey Metro Centre are the two largest centres in the region. Following those are seven other Regional City Centres that act as activity hubs and support rapid transit infrastructure, including the SeaBus, Rapid Bus, and SkyTrain. The smaller, Municipal Town Centres are diverse, with some showcasing the region’s diverse history and culture, while others are emerging as dense transit supportive hubs. Frequent transit development areas (FTDAs) are additional locations for growth, providing services and amenities to a more local population, while supporting rapid transit investment in both the immediate and longer term.

In Metro 2050, the Regional Growth Strategy, urban centres and frequent transit development areas (FTDAs) are considered “growth o​verlays” meaning the underlying land use designation is unchanged but there is an additional expectation that higher levels of housing and job growth will take place in these areas. Policies related to urban centres and FTDAs can be found under Strategy 1.2 in Metro 2050.​​

  ​​Regional City Centre Profiles​​​​

What does an urban centre look like?

Although each urban centre is unique, successful ones have some common elements:

  • A diversity of housing types and tenures that respond to an aging population, changing family and household characteristics, and the full range of household incomes and needs across the region
  • Sufficient commercial and office sp​ace ensures that there are jobs and services close to home
  • A connected network of sustainable transportation options that reduce traffic, energy consumption, and air pollution
  • A high-quality pedestrian environment that creates vibrancy and promotes walking, cycling, and transit
  • Ample amenities such as parks, public squares, greenways, and other recreational opportunities, as well as an abundance of social and cultural activities that create a strong sense of place and community, while fostering active and healthy living
  • Services (like child care and transit) and infrastructure (including both gray and green infrastructure) that are designed to accommodate higher levels of growth, and enhance community resilience to climate and natural disasters.

​Urban centres and frequent transit development areas​

​​ Urban Centres Map

Learn about the costs of providing infrastructure t​o different residential densities

A foundational principle of Metro 2050 is directing growth to the right places. This includes the efficient provision and use of infrastructure, increasing transit ridership, and protecting natural and agricultural areas, while supporting the building of compact complete communities.

To better understand the costs and revenues associated with “urban” versus “sprawl” residential development in the region, Metro Vancouver completed a study exploring municipal infrastructure capital and operating costs for different residential forms and densities, and property taxation and utility fees on a per unit and per capita basis.

​​​​ ​​Metro Vancouver Costs of Providing Infrastructure and Services to Different Residential Densities Study 2023

Find​ ​more resources and studies on urban centres​​​​​​​​​​​​​

 Related Links



Transportation, TransportationTransportation
Metro 2050: Regional Growth Strategy, Metro 2050: Regional Growth StrategyMetro 2050: Regional Growth Strategy

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