The development and preservation of such a relationship would be greatly enhanced if regular meetings could be scheduled between the Province (the Premier and key Cabinet Ministers including Environment, Finance, Transportation and Infrastructure, Health, and Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation) and elected officials from the Metro Vancouver Board of Directors (Board Chair, Vice-Chair, and Chairs of key Committees including Climate Action, Housing, Regional Planning, Utilities and Zero Waste) that would facilitate an open and direct dialogue on the issues that impact the region and its citizens.
If elected, will your party be willing to strike an ad-hoc Committee comprising members of Cabinet and elected officials from Metro Vancouver that would meet regularly to discuss issues of common concern?
We have observed that the relationship between Metro Vancouver and the province has been dysfunctional, particularly on issues such as transportation. A BC Green government would work very hard to improve the working relationship. A BC Green government would be prepared to discuss such a committee or perhaps assigning a designated Parliamentary Secretary to liaise with Metro Vancouver.
Today’s BC Liberals are always willing to meet with local government officials from Metro Vancouver to discuss issues of common concern.
British Columbians are tired of the BC Liberal government pointing fingers at communities instead of working to get things done. A BC NDP government will renew the province’s relationship with municipalities, working together for our shared goals instead of blaming communities for problems, that will include more open and inclusive dialogue about issues of shared concern.
Metro Vancouver is responsible for providing services that help keep half the province of British Columbia people healthy and safe and that enhance the prosperity of the region, including clean water and air, comprehensive liquid and solid waste management, transportation, parks and recreation. However, the ability to do so – which is regulated by the provincial government – is often severely constrained by limited sources of revenue, which forces Metro Vancouver and other local governments in the region to rely primarily on property taxes, user fees, and transfers from other orders of government to provide these services.
If elected, how will your party commit to providing long-term, sustainable funding to Metro Vancouver for large capital projects such as upgrades to the Lions Gate and Iona Island Wastewater Treatment Plants, which under federal regulation must be completed by 2020 and 2030 respectively and that combined will cost in excess of $1.7 billion?
A BC Green government would provide at least 33% funding for infrastructure projects shared with the federal and local governments. We would give special consideration on a case by case basis for projects of special importance to the province.
Our BC Liberal government has always recognized the need for the provincial government and local governments to work together on major infrastructure projects. We remain committed to investing in modern and efficient infrastructure to meet the growing needs of communities, expand our economy, and protect the environment.
This commitment is reflected in our recent investment in the Lions Gate Wastewater Treatment Plant. With our federal partners, Today’s BC Liberal government is contributing $405 million to this vital $700 million project. The new facility will be located on a Metro Vancouver-owned site in the District of North Vancouver. Once completed, the districts of West and North Vancouver, the City of North Vancouver, and the Squamish Nation will be able to depend on an improved, modern, and reliable wastewater system. As a result of this funding, this new facility is expected to be operating by 2020.
If re-elected, we will continue working with Metro Vancouver to ensure further critical investments are made. In terms of specific infrastructure program requests and potential new revenue streams for local governments, Today’s BC Liberals would certainly be prepared to consider any proposal Metro Vancouver would like to put forward, keeping in mind that there is only one taxpayer and we cannot mortgage our children’s future tomorrow by overspending, today. We need to live within our means and control government spending, grow the economy, create jobs and keep taxes low for families and businesses so that we continue to attract both people and investment to our province.
We are committed to working with the region and with local mayors to find long term solutions to funding critical infrastructure projects. For transit and transportation, we have already committed to providing 40% of the capital funding for the Mayor Council's 10 year plan. Over the long term, we will sit down with Mayors to find fair and equitable solutions for infrastructure funding. We will also work with local governments to achieve funding partnerships with the federal government. With the federal government finally stepping up to the plate with infrastructure dollars, now is the time to work together to improve our cities, towns, and communities. We are committed to working together with local governments, not fighting against them like Christy Clark and the BC Liberals have done for 16 years.
Between January 2014 and December 2016, the composite home price index for the Metro Vancouver region increased by 48%, while during the same period, the provincial Home Owner Grant threshold value increased by a similar amount of 45%, from $1.1 million to $1.6 million. In the past decade, however – despite its population growth outstripping the rest of the province – Metro Vancouver's share of the total amount of grants issued declined from 53.0% to 46.8%, a reduction that was accelerated by the 2011 introduction of the Northern and Rural Home Owner Grant, which provides an additional $200 for eligible homes in northern and rural areas.
Since the Home Owner Grant is primarily deducted from the School Tax, Metro Vancouver's decreasing grant levels have caused net residential-class School Tax to increase faster than it would have otherwise; in Metro Vancouver, the 5-year average annual growth in net residential-class School Tax was 6%, compared to 0% for the rest of the Province.
If elected, will your party commit to supporting changes to the Home Owner Grant program that provide a fairer and more equitable property taxation system in BC, and if so, how?
BC Greens believe the home owner grant program needs to be examined in the context of broader reform of the tax system. It was introduced in a different age and has to be constantly patched up to address changes in the market. In the short term, a BC Green government would adjust the program to make it more fair. In the longer term we would undertake a major review of the property tax system, collaboratively with local and regional governments and with the public, to develop a modern, streamlined and equitable system for funding regional and municipal governments.
The BC NDP has no current plans to change the Home Owner Grant program. But we do believe that renters deserve a break too. That is why our platform proposes a $400 renter's rebate to make life more affordable for renters and to help families manage the high cost of housing and rent in today’s market. If we form the next government, we would sit down with Metro Vancouver mayors and work collaboratively to ensure that the homeowner grant program and associated taxes are fair and equitable for everyone in the region.