Vancouver approves $1-billion capital plan

Vancouver Capital PlanVoters will decide spending on plan spanning 2015-18

By Angela Espinoza, News Editor

On October 1, the City of Vancouver approved a billion-dollar capital plan spanning the next four years. Part of the 2015-18 initiative is to fund various services throughout Vancouver, including but not limited to affordable housing, childcare, and utilities.

The plan seeks to cover costs on services that can respectively be deemed necessary for the city to continue being both innovative and operational. Nine points are outlined in the capital plan listing services and their costs; keeping with the above, $125-million is reserved for affordable housing, $30-million for childcare, and $325-million—the largest amount—will be available for utilities.

Each of the service outlines note ambitious plans for how funding will be spent. Regarding affordable housing, the $125-million will be contributed to an overall fund of $560-million, with which the city hopes to create an additional 2,550 housing units by 2018. The increase in funding is related to a “Vancouver Housing and Homeless Strategy” revealed in 2011 that lays out plans spanning into 2021 in an attempt to keep Vancouver’s vulnerable residents and numerous homeless sheltered.

The childcare plan involves 1,000 additional spaces including daycare, preschool, and before- and after-school care for children ranging from newborns to 12-year-olds. Part of the childcare plan is to increase childrearing opportunities and activities to continue “Attracting and Retaining Human Talent,” another 2011-dated initiative.

In response to the $30-million childcare fund, Vancouver’s chair of finance and services committee Raymond Louie told the Globe and Mail, “This is probably the single largest childcare allotment by a municipality ever in Canada.

“We already know the demand is significant. Very long waitlists already exist and we’re trying to help our citizens stay in our city.”

As for utilities, the large $325-million sum is necessary in order to maintain the city’s various energy sources and plumbing, as well as to upgrade each facility. One of the goals for the utilities fund is to bring more water into the city while also reducing environmental hazards.

Much of the overall funding is dependent on numerous sources of money, including money from property taxes and donations from various organizations involved with the city. Additionally, money is borrowed from the city’s capital reserves; money paid back by the city overtime inevitably reduces high rates of debt. However, voters will decide how much money is to be borrowed by the city regarding the capital funding plans in a November 15 plebiscite. The vote will determine whether or not the City of Vancouver will need to locate additional funding elsewhere or if the proposed amount is appropriate for residents.