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Mayor Gregor promises something for developers too

March 12th, 2009 · 12 Comments

Vision Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson got to deliver HIS speech to the Vancouver Board of Trade today, right after Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts’ speech to her board yesterday. Like Dianne, he promised lots of things to stimulate developers and construction: speeded up processes, some vague stuff on fee concessions that I couldn’t get a tight grip on, and $500 million worth of infrastructure projects. (BTW, for those of you who haven’t cottoned on to it yet, I’m trying to figure out some way to make this Twitter thing actually useful, so whenever I go to a speech or an event, I post Twitters during said event for quickie hits. So there’s a few more highlights about the speech on my fabulavancouver Twitter thingie.)

One thing I’m not understanding with both Robertson’s and Watts’ promise of infrastructure projects — does this mean on top of their planned level of capital spending? If so, how can they do that without a referendum. If it’s not, aren’t they just announcing what they were already going to do anyway? Some nitpicking journalist should get on top of this and find out the answers. Oh, that’s me. Will do, boss.

Anyway, it did feel a little like an anticlimax after Dianne’s announcements yesterday. But who knows what these announcements really mean? I did have people in the development world say that cities could cut their fees to nothing and it wouldn’t make a difference if developers 1. can’t get credit 2. can’t get people to buy.

For the record, here’s what Gregor specifically said re development and business. (Oh, and by the way, he also talked about Vancouver’s aggressive plan to tackle homelessness and how that’s going to make the city a better place; about Vancouver’s brand as a green city and how that can be marketed; and about the dynamic film and arts sectors.)

This is Gregor

There’s a lot the City can do. Over the coming months, here are some of the steps I will be taking as Mayor to ensure that Vancouver remains economically healthy and competitive, and that we continue to foster creativity and innovation within our city:

To spur development and business in Vancouver, I will

1. Initiate enhanced development zoning that will provide incentives for new development. I will bring to Council an innovative program which will be based on expedited processes, tax incentives, density, parking, zoning and easements that will encourage and incent multi-use developments which create jobs in the building phase, create new commercial space linked to long term jobs and are tied into transit corridors to enable sustainable transportation options.

2. We will strategically target the city’s capital investments to facilitate greater development activity and leverage new private and public investment. The City will spend $520 million into local infrastructure for the next 3 years, the City’s largest ever investment in our infrastructure and facilities. These expenditures will support a wide range of business in Vancouver from architectural and design firms, larger and small general contractors and subcontractors.

3. We are also pursuing further investment into infrastructure, including housing, in partnership with the Federal and Provincial government. Our hope is that infrastructure dollars flow this year from Ottawa and Victoria, so that we can accelerate the pace of job creation here in Vancouver.

4. We will provide tax incentives and expedited approvals at City Hall for projects that prepared to be shovel ready in 2009;

To attract investment, enhance our business climate and our global reputation leading into the 2010 games, I will strike a Mayors 2010 Economic and Investment Strategy Group, in consultation with the Board of Trade and industry leaders, to take advantage of the world being here in Vancouver.

We will start by convening the major sponsors and contributors of the 2010 Games and actively sell to markets both close to home in San Francisco, LA, Portland, Seattle and New York as well as emerging markets in Asia. Come Games time, we will be ready to host with local leaders to showcase the investment opportunities in our City.

I will be calling on the Board of Trade membership to actively participate in these trade missions and to build the Vancouver brand in international markets. 2010 will be about signing deals while the world is here in Vancouver;

Categories: Uncategorized

  • foo

    Well, I feel better already knowing that we’re getting another Mayoral task force,the grand-sounding “Mayor’s 2010 Economic and Investment Strategy Group”.

  • Wagamuffin

    Re:” multi-use developments which create jobs in the building phase, create new commercial space linked to long term jobs and are tied into transit corridors to enable sustainable transportation options”

    Are these low level mixed commercial buildings? After all the eco-density talk, and nimbyism about not building over 6 stories in many neighborhoods, what kind of significant businesses are we talking about? Are we talking about ‘mom and pops’ or services (like architects, designer, etc?).

    Will there be office/commercial development of the type that could house, say, 300 or 400 Microsoft workers (we lost them to Richmond because of lack of space). What kind of businesses would the Mayor be looking for in order to populate the commercial developments he hopes to have built?

  • VHB

    Right. Because the problem in this town is that developers haven’t had it easy enough; haven’t had enough sway at city hall. Great.

  • glissando remmy

    To Mayor Robertson and to his speech writers:
    To such a great “fanfaronnade” please accept my selection of quotes courtesy of a great American classic.

    Wizard of Oz: “Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.”

    Wizard of Oz: “As for you, my galvanized friend, you want a heart. You don’t know how lucky you are not to have one. Hearts will never be practical until they can be made unbreakable.”
    Tin Woodsman: “But I still want one.”
    Scarecrow: “What about the heart that you promised Tin Man? Or the courage you promised Lion?”
    Cowardly Lion: “And Scarecrow’s brain?”
    Wizard of Oz: “Why, anybody can have a brain. That’s a very mediocre commodity. Every pusillanimous creature that crawls on the Earth or slinks through slimy seas has a brain. Back where I come from, we have universities, seats of great learning, where men go to become great thinkers. And when they come out, they think deep thoughts and with no more brains than you have.”
    Wizard of Oz: “They have one thing you haven’t got: a diploma. Therefore, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Universitartus Committiartum E Pluribus Unum, I hereby confer upon you the honorary degree of ThD.”
    Scarecrow: ThD?
    Wizard of Oz: “That’s… Doctor of Thinkology.”
    Scarecrow: “The sum of the square roots of any two sides of an isosceles triangle is equal to the square root of the remaining side. Oh joy! Rapture! I got a brain! How can I ever thank you enough?”
    Wizard of Oz: “You can’t.”

    Wizard of Oz: “Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.”

    Cowardly Lion: “Read what my medal says: “Courage”. Ain’t it the truth? Ain’t it the truth?”
    Wizard of Oz: “You, my friend, are a victim of disorganized thinking. You are under the unfortunate impression that just because you run away you have no courage; you’re confusing courage with wisdom. ”
    Wizard of Oz: “Back where I come from there are men who do nothing all day but good deeds. They are called phila… er, phila… er, yes, er, Good Deed Doers.”

    Wizard of Oz: “Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.”

    Dorothy: “My goodness, what a fuss you’re making! Well naturally, when you go around picking on things weaker than you are. Why, you’re nothing but a great big coward!
    Cowardly Lion: [crying] You’re right, I am a coward! I haven’t any courage at all. I even scare myself.”
    Cowardly Lion: “Look at the circles under my eyes. I haven’t slept in weeks.”
    Tin Woodsman: “Why don’t you try counting sheep?”
    Cowardly Lion: “That doesn’t do any good. I’m afraid of them.”
    Scarecrow: “Ah, that’s too bad.”
    Wizard of Oz: “Do not arouse the wrath of the great and powerful Oz. I said come back tomorrow.”
    Wizard of Oz: [speaking in a booming voice into microphone] “I am the great and powerful…
    [then, realizing that it is useless to continue his masquerade, moves away from microphone, speaks in a normal voice]
    Wizard of Oz: … Wizard of Oz.”
    Wizard of Oz: “You people should consider yourselves lucky that I’m granting you an audience tomorrow instead of 20 years from now.”

    Wizard of Oz: “Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain. ”

    All of the above are excerpts from the movie “The Wizard of OZ”, 1939, MGM Studios

    DISCLAIMER: Any resemblance to persons living or dead is purely coincidental!

    We live in Vancouver and this keeps us busy.

  • Not running for mayor

    Great insight as always glissando remmy. I think you need to start your own site…

    Does anyone have any details about the mayors plan? It just seems to be lacking in any concrete details unlike Surrey’s plan. Sounds like he was put on the spot by Surrey’s annoucement and didn’t have time to form a plan yet but wanted to steal some of the thunder. If there are some concrete details out there on this plan please post them as I’d love to see them. As far as I know even Vision hasn’t discussed this let alone council.

  • A. G. Tsakumis

    Why would Watts need to cal a referendum on this Frances?

    She fell just short of this announcement through the election and some details were spitballed by her “competitors” (if I can call people so feeble that!)…the only piece missing was her confirmation the other day…

    So, I think the referendum was when she trounced her “competition” by increasing her majority and winning and unprecedented winning percentage as Mayor.

    Why then waste hundreds of thousands on a referendum to confirm the wishes of the people of Surrey, not four months ago?

  • Joseph Jones

    Tax incentives, density, parking, zoning and easements that will encourage and incent multi-use developments which create jobs in the building phase …

    Sustainability? Livability? Ecological responsibility?

    Throw up some buildings now, remediate in one or two decades, demolish in four or five. Lots of jobs.

    Growth is always good. Just ask an oncologist.

  • fbula


    The reason I’m asking is that municipalities are legally required to hold a referendum to get public approval for major capital projects that have to be financed through municipal bonds. That’s why all municipalities ask for public approval at election time for their three-year capital plans. And it’s why there was such a fuss when the provincial government changed the legislation to allow Vancouver to borrow money for the Olympic village without a referendum.

    It’s not a comment on whether she’s popular. It’s the legality of financing infrastructure spending. And it’s not a criticism. I’m just curious about whether the infrastructure spending she and Gregor are talking about is what was, in fact, already approved in their capital plans last November when everyone voted.

  • A. G. Tsakumis


    Right! and I wasn’t suggesting you were being critical (that’s my job).

    Watts already made this earmarked money, Gregor hasn’t.

    Sorry, I wasn’t more clear. Apologies.

    Have a good weekend.

  • LP

    Not running for mayor,

    You said, “If there are some concrete details out there on this plan please post them as I’d love to see them.”

    I believe that if you go back to their election campaign, you’ll notice this is in fact their modus operandi for all their activities, regardless of class or category.

    Step 1) Be vague but offer hope for change.
    Step 2) Set up committees for excellent sandwich thingies, oh and to discuss important stuff only us green-oids really care about.
    Step 3) Make decisions based on our ideals and not what is best for the city as a whole.
    Step 4) Repeat.

    Come on now, the details we’ll all get once they’ve make the decisions. After all they got our mandate in the election, why would they need to consult the electorate and not just their insiders on anything else before 2011.

  • Wagamuffin

    Re:Infrastrucrture spending. Frances, could this be in addition to muni money, and therefore does not need the OK from the electorate ? Is this federal funds they are hoping for (Watts and Robertosn both went to Ottawa with shopping lists for housing, transportation and waste management).

  • fbula

    Wagamuffin — But if it’s the federal money, I don’t understand how they can give such specific figures. No one knows yet what they’re getting in federal money. The last time I talked to both Vancouver and Surrey, they were still waiting to hear what the process was going to be to apply to get projects funded.