Vancouver City has debt!

As a newbie to the municipal political scene, I was naive to think that Vancouver City itself was not in debt. But it is. According to an article in the Vancouver Sun “The City of Vancouver is the only municipality in B.C. that can directly take on debt without permission from the provincial and regional governments.” That is one reason why they are sometimes in the red with liabilities exceeding financial assets by $268 million.  If they want something, up until now, they just spend money they don’t have to get it, and then worry about paying it off later, like a teenager on a limited income.

In an article by the Fraser Institute, “In the City of Vancouver’s case, they are not able to control use of government debt and the city has been addicted (to uncontrolled spending) for more than a decade. Despite clear signs of an addiction problem, city hall recently proposed an ambitious infrastructure plan that would further increase debt over the next four years.” They plan to spend money on bike lanes & social housing. In my opinion, that is ok, as long as it is done right and solves the problems they want to solve.

My problem is silly, unnecessary spending, such as $8,000 on a new “poorly designed and uninspiring logo that city staff had hoped would rebrand the West Coast metropolis.” Or spending $323,000 “fighting” the Kinder Morgan pipeline. Plus staff time. Plus contributions to environmental charities. All to “fight” a pipeline that the City had no jurisdiction over. Between November 2011 and December 2015, the total cost of consultants, advertising, travel, taxis, food and drink and other items was nearly $650,000.

Then hhere is a paragraph from a recent CBC Facebook post – “Social housing used to mean affordable housing as a whole. Now it’s an entire development where up to 70% of units can be rented at market rates. Because the 299-unit development is considered as social housing, the project will get a city subsidy. The proponent will be spared from paying development cost levies amounting to $9.3 million.” And the rent is still $4,700 a month! The City could be getting at least a partial amount of levies…

The biggest problem is that debt eventually has to be paid off, and that the City is spend more and more on debt servicing costs, so that by 2019, around 9% of the budget will spent on debt. If I am elected at City Hall, I will go after wasteful, unnecessary spending, spend more on things that matter like changing Vancouver into a world class, sustainable city, and have 10% homelessness in 4 years and make sure everyone has a place they can afford. Vote for Elke Porter!