Monday, April 25, 2016

Metro Vancouver’s Council of Councils Part 1: Federal Budget Good News, Shrinking Industrial Land Base

Metro Vancouver, the regional district, is a federation of 21 municipalities, one treaty First Nation, and Electoral Area A. Municipalities appoint a limited amount of councillors/mayors to the various boards and committees at Metro Vancouver.

While these appointees provide feedback to their councils, and Metro Vancouver provides frequent updates, there is something to be said about hearing things straight from the horse’s mouth.

Every so often, Metro Vancouver holds a Council of Councils meeting where all people elected from various municipalities, Tsawwassen First Nation, and Electoral Area A hear updates, and ask questions, about the important initiatives the regional district is working on.

On Saturday April 25, I attended a Council of Councils meeting. I’ve split the topics covered at this meeting into two posts due to the amount of information presented.

2016 Federal Budget Overview

The federal budget was good news for local governments throughout Canada. The current federal government has placed a large emphases on building new and renewing old local infrastructure.

The feds will be investing $60 billion over the next 10 years on transit, social, and green infrastructure. $11.9 billion of this $60 billion plan is allocated during the current federal election cycle. This funding is in addition to the funding available in the old New Build Canada Fund.

Metro Vancouver's proposed Lions Gate Wastewater Treatment Plant was specify called out in the budget for funding which made Metro Vancouver very happy.

Also good news is that federal government will now pay for 50% of transit capital project costs instead of the 33% which is what the old federal government used to do. The federal government is also working directly with local governments; provincial governments are no longer the gatekeepers for federal infrastructure funding.

Affordable housing is a major concern for residents in the region. The federal government has a new $2.3 billion National Housing Strategy which includes $200 million to increase affordable housing for seniors, and $54 million to tackle homelessness. For people in Langley City, this new funding could be put to good use.

Also important to note is that the feds have allocated $322.2 million to build things like community arts centres.

Under previous federal infrastructure plans, projects were provided funding on a lottery/ad-hoc basis. Metro Vancouver is pushing for allocation-based funding for all federal infrastructure funds. For example, federal funding for transit is now based on ridership.

Metro Vancouver Regional Industrial Land Strategy

As I posted about recently, Metro Vancouver’s industry land base is being converted to other uses. This is impacting the ability of our region to attract and retain certain businesses. Metro Vancouver provided an update about the recently completed industrial land inventory. You can read more about this in a post I wrote two weeks ago.

Over the next year, Metro Vancouver will be getting various stakeholders together (local government and businesses) to develop a plan on how to move forward with protecting the industrial land base. This feedback will be used to develop an Industrial Land Strategy.

This is part 1 of what was covered at the Council of Councils meeting. I will post part 2 on Wednesday.

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