I am writing with an update on some progress we are making on some important issues at City Hall. In this report, please find updates on a number of items that support the Five Goals we have established for our government:
- Increased Investment in Vancouver Police Department
- Tax Relief for Vancouver Small Businesses
- Downtown Streetcar
Increased Investment in Vancouver Police Department (VPD)
Earlier this week, Councillor Kim Capri and I confirmed our plans to recommend that Vancouver City Council fully support the VPD’s request for 96 new police officers over the next two years. Our new Chief Constable, Jim Chu has done a terrific job in his first year on the job and we are very proud to support the hard working men and women of the VPD.
This investment is in addition to the 140 new full time employees and millions of dollars for new equipment and training we have approved for the VPD over the past two years. It also complements our Project Civil City commitments to increase access to social housing, improve drug addiction & mental health services, establish dumpster free zones and expand the Downtown Ambassador program.
City Council is expected to vote on the issue next month. To help mitigate the impact of this investment to taxpayers, we will:
- apply any new funding we receive from the federal government for police officers to this investment (the Prime Minister has confirmed BC will receive $53 million to deliver on their election commitment to put more officers on the street and support municipal police forces)
- through Project Civil City we will work with provincial government to collect outstanding by-law fines and increase minimum fines to address issues like fighting, graffiti and poor housing standards
Tax Relief for Vancouver Small Business
By a very close 6-5 vote, City Council approved a recommendation to provide tax relief for small businesses in every neighbourhood of our city. Two years ago, our government made a promise to make the hard decisions that were required to improve tax fairness in Vancouver. At that time, small businesses were being taxed at six times the rate of residents. The situation was not sustainable and leadership was required.
As a result of our vote, small businesses will see a slight reduction to their taxes this year. This is further to the 1% reduction we approved in 2006 and last year’s tax freeze. Our decision will help to ensure that small businesses can thrive in our local neighbourhoods which will help to ensure they are sustainable. It is important to remember that our local neighbhourhood businesses are an amenity we all want to retain.
Earlier this week, Vancouver City Council approved a proposal to develop a Downtown Streetcar Network that would connect the new Convention Centre to Gastown, Chinatown, Science World, Olympic Village and Granville Island.
The plan we approved works toward a Streetcar Demonstration Project from Granville Island up to the Olympic Village by 2010. It includes a commitment to public-private partnerships and coordination with Translink. In addition to being a wonderful tourism attraction, a Downtown Streetcar Network will benefit our environment by increasing transportation options for local residents.
Since the plan was announced this week I have heard a lot of positive feedback from Vancouver residents who remember the old Vancouver Streetcar service and the children of long-time Vancouver residents who have told them about it. There are many wonderful stories. I also want to thank Councillor Anton for her work on this important file and other sustainable development initiatives like EcoDensity and the proposed UBC
Rapid Transit Line.
Thank you again for your ongoing interest and support on these initiatives. As always, I look forward to your ideas and feedback.