British Columbia

Vancouver voters to decide on $300 million in spending at ballot-box

In addition to electing the next city council, park board and school board on Oct. 20, Vancouver voters will be asked if they approve of the city borrowing $300 million for upcoming capital projects at the ballot box.

Municipal vote includes 3 questions on city's upcoming capital projects

Vancouver voters will get to decide whether the city should borrow $300 million in debt. (Cliff Shim/CBC)

In addition to electing the next city council, park board and school board on Oct. 20, Vancouver voters will be asked at the ballot box if they approve of the city borrowing $300 million for upcoming capital projects.

The three questions have to do with the city's plans for capital spending over the next four years.

Patrice Impey, chief financial officer for the City of Vancouver, says it's fairly common to have capital plan questions on the ballot as part of the city's four-year financial planning cycle. 

According to the Vancouver Charter that governs the city, she said, the city must get approval from voters to take on debt for projects outside of water, sewer, and district energy systems.

"We aligned the capital plan signing so that when the civic election comes forward, voters can also cast [their vote] while they're electing mayor and council, they'll also be able to approve the non-utility related spending," Impey said.     

Debt to be used for variety of projects

The debt — about $300 million in total — is a small portion of the overall plan, she said, and less than 20 per cent of the plan.

"We also have capital reserves and other revenues that fund the rest of the plan," she said. 

The borrowed money will be used for maintenance, reconstruction and enhancement of sidewalks, greenways, and cycle routes, and repairs and structural work on the Granville Bridge.

It will also be used for maintaining community facilities and civic centres, which include community centres, pools, rinks, libraries, childcare centres, cultural facilities, social facilities, housing, fire halls, police buildings, administrative facilities, and service yards.

Some of the money will go to the replacement, renewal or rehabilitation of existing community facilities, including Marpole-Oakridge Community Centre, Marpole Library, and the City Archives, among others. 

A new council won't greatly change things, Impey said. They might be able to prioritize different projects annually, but the capital plan is in place for four years. 

"Once the electorate approves this level of borrowing, that's the level of borrowing that's available. A new council can't change that."

In addition to electing the next city council, park board and school board on Oct. 20, Vancouver voters will be asked if they approve of the city borrowing $300 million for upcoming capital projects at the ballot box. 6:55

With files from The Early Edition

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