February City Council Report - Progress on BC Place, UBC Line, Arts & Culture
Further to previous reports, I am writing to update you on our government's plan to deliver on the five goals we have established for our government. It focuses on:
Last year, we set a new record for building permits in the City of Vancouver. The total value of permits last year was over $2.5 billion. This represents an increase of approximately 20% over last year - even with the strike.
2002 - $1.31 B
2003 - $1.06 B
2004 - $1.73 B
2005 - $1.6 B
2006 - $2.04 B
2007 - $2.57 B
And speaking of the strike we will return all administrative savings to property taxpayers in this year's budget. I anticipate this amount will be much higher than originally anticipated due to the length of the labour action.
Two key elements of our government's Project Civil City plan are to increase access to social housing and reduce public disorder on our streets. Last week, we took two significant steps forward.
Housing - On Friday, BC Housing Minister Rich Coleman and I announced that 12 community agencies have now been selected to provide mental health and addiction support services at the 12 city-owned sites we approved for social housing in December.
A recent staff report confirmed the City of Vancouver is investing more than $175 million for social housing - despite the fact housing is the responsibility of senior levels of government. Currently there are more than 2750 units in progress in Vancouver.
Policing - One of my highlights last year was swearing in our new Vancouver Police Department (VPD) Chief Constable Jim Chu. Under his leadership, the VPD are doing a great job of reducing crime. Last year we achieved significant reductions in many categories.
As Chair of the Vancouver Police Board, I have been proud to support Chief Chu in his efforts to send back to justice those wanted in jurisdictions across the country. Last week we returned our first "non-returnable" warrant to Ontario.
This week, we released a report detailing the increased burden our police officers have been taking on to fill gaps in the current mental health system. We will be following up to provincial and federal governments in the coming days to encourage them to act on the report's recommendations.
Last summer, our government renewed our commitment to complete the Millennium Rapid Transit Line to Central Broadway and UBC as Vancouver's top transit infrastructure priority.
In the fall, we launched a web survey on the project, hosted roundtable meetings and aggressively encouraged the provincial and federal governments to consider our request for funding.
Last month, Premier Campbell and BC Transport Minister Kevin Falcon indicated that they listened to us, and to our 1850 survey respondents by announcing the provincial government will support a $2.8 billion UBC Rapid Transit Line.
We look forward to accelerating the planning and public consultation process in the coming months. And last week at City Council - to make sure businesses are protected on Broadway - our government passed a motion opposing cut and cover construction for the new line.
Last week at City Council, our government reviewed a new 10-Year Culture Plan for Vancouver and allocated the third installment of a three-phase increase to Vancouver's cultural budget. This is in addition to our new $1.5 million cultural tourism fund.
Also last week, we took a major step to secure the future of BC Place Stadium with a plan to more fully develop the potential of its current site. BC Place is a critical part of Vancouver's tourism and event infrastructure - generating more than $58 million in economic activity last year.
This month we will kick off the 2008 Cultural Olympiad, finalize plans for the first annual Mayor's Arts Awards and continue to lobby to host the 2009 Juno Awards in Vancouver.
Last week, I was honoured to join with Hon. Claude Richmond, BC Minister of Employment and representatives of SUCCESS to officially launch the first multicultural employment program for persons with disabilities in Canada.
This new initiative will help ensure persons with disabilities from every cultural background are able to fully participate and enjoy the benefits of local employment programs.
This new partnership will help ensure Vancouver remains one of the world's most inclusive cities.
Please feel free to contact me any time with your thoughts and suggestions.
I always look forward to your feedback.