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Metro Vancouver calls for federal support for infrastructure and housing

By Richmond Sentinel

Published 4:24 PST, Fri November 17, 2023

Last Updated: 12:41 PST, Mon November 20, 2023


Metro Vancouver is asking the Government of Canada to match and exceed regional and provincial funding commitments for much-needed infrastructure and housing projects.

On November 17, Metro Vancouver Board Chair, George V. Harvie, spoke to the House of Commons’ Standing Committee on Finance as part of its pre-budget consultations in advance of the 2024 Budget.

“Our main request is that the federal government contribute one-third of Phase 1 funding for the Iona Island Wastewater Treatment Plant Project, which is the largest infrastructure project in Metro Vancouver’s history,” said Harvie. “Metro Vancouver and the Province of British Columbia have each committed their $250 million share, and we are urging the federal government to also support this essential project.”

The Iona Island Wastewater Treatment Plant is being upgraded to meet regulatory requirements and to ensure continued protection of public health and the environment. This housing enabling infrastructure is critical for the region to continue serving its growing population. The plant will accommodate the projected growth of approximately 170,000 residents, in addition to supporting 750,000 existing residents. The total cost of the project will be upwards of $10 billion and work will continue in phases until 2039. To ensure that sewage rates remain affordable and predictable in the region, the federal government must commit one-third of funding for the entire project.

Metro Vancouver’s second key priority is affordable housing. Metro Vancouver Housing is one of the largest non-profit affordable housing providers in BC, with a strong portfolio of new housing projects ready to be built. The Province has invested $158 million and signed an agreement with Metro Vancouver to support the delivery of over 2,000 new affordable units. Metro Vancouver is asking the federal government to contribute $166 million in financing, $40 million in forgivable loans, and to sign an agreement to help deliver the full portfolio of projects over the next 10 years.

“In a region that remains far too costly for young families, this funding is critical to ensure that affordable housing projects are available to those who need them,” said Harvie. “As local leaders, we must do our best to lessen the financial burden on our constituents, and partnering with senior levels of government is critical to achieving this goal.”

Current forecasts anticipate Metro Vancouver’s population will grow by one million people by 2050. At the same time, climate change will continue to put pressure on critical infrastructure like water and wastewater systems.

“Without support from the federal government, regional infrastructure cannot keep pace with population growth. We call on the federal government to ensure that Metro Vancouver and its residents receive a fair share of federal infrastructure dollars,” said Harvie. “Only with a willing federal partner can our region deliver the programs and infrastructure that are so desperately needed.”

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