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;