Monday, May 29, 2017

Planning investment in water and sewer services, plus affordable housing in Metro Vancouver

Our regional district, Metro Vancouver, provides many significant services. The big three services that Metro Vancouver provides are for water, sewer, and solid waste (garbage, recycling, and organics).

When looking at your property tax bill, you’ll see a line item for Metro Vancouver, but that only represents a small amount of revenue that the regional district receives. Metro Vancouver charges municipalities for water and sewer services, and waste haulers for solid waste services, who then passed along the costs. In Langley City, between 60 to 70 percent of the charges on a typical tax bill for water and sewer services are passed to the regional district.

Providing safe drinking water and waste water treatment requires major investment in infrastructure. For example, the recently completed Capilano-Seymour water project cost $820 million. The North Shore Wastewater Treatment Plant which is starting construction is budgeted to cost $700 million. These are just two of the many projects that the regional district is or has worked on.

The Metro Vancouver board, which is mostly made up of elected officials from municipalities within the region, held a strategic workshop to help guide the development of a new 5-year financial plan.

The follow drawings were produced at the strategic workshop.

Metro Vancouver Board Strategic Planning Workshop - Scenario Directions. Select image to enlarge.

Metro Vancouver Board Strategic Planning Workshop - Details. Select image to enlarge.

Are you can see, there was a discussion about two scenarios for funding Metro Vancouver services. “Steady as We Go” and “Slowing Things Down”. The “Steady as We Go” option seemed to be the direction that Metro Vancouver board members felt the regional district needs to go. This scenario will require around a 5% annual growth in revenue. “Slowing Things Down” defers projects to the future which would increase risk of providing reliable services, increasing costs in the future.

Currently, developers pay for expanding local water and sewer services through Developer Cost Charges (DCCs) when new development projects are built. At the workshop, Metro Vancouver board members expressed interest in increasing DCCs to pay for regional projects that are required due to population growth.

Metro Vancouver is also an affordable housing provider. With the current affordable housing crisis in our region, workshop participants were interested in seeing the regional district’s role in providing affordable housing expand.

For more information about the workshop, read the “Board Strategic Planning Workshop – Discussion Summary” (starting on page 70.)

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