Vancouver's capital plan reveals city's spending priorities
This week, Vancouver city council and the park board will each deal with staff recommendations on the capital plan.
It's not the sexiest issue to come before the politicians, but it can have a significant impact on people's lives.
The city has allocated $255.1 million this year in its capital plan. To provide some perspective, that's about one-quarter of the operating budget, which attracts significantly more media attention.
The park board will deal with the issue on Monday (February 13), and council will address the recommendations on Tuesday (February 14).
Last September, council approved a $702-million capital plan from 2012 to 2014.
One of the larger expenditures is $15.3 million on a Strathcona–Downtown Eastside branch library, which was approved by voters as part of a referendum on the capital plan.
Only $1 million will be advanced this year to that project, with $7.37 million and $6.93 million flowing through in years two and three of the capital plan.
Another big-ticket item is $18 million for the first phase of new community centre, library, and child-care facility in Marpole. Just like in Mount Pleasant, the city plans to combine different public services under one roof in a mixed-use facility.
Only $6.2 million will be spent on the Marpole centre this year.
The city also plans to spend $33.5 million buying sites for nonmarket housing over three years; the timing of these purchases is listed as "uncertain" in the plan. Another $9.9 million will be allocated to the replacement of nonmarket housing, with almost all of that occurring in 2014.
There's an additional $4 million in grants to new nonmarket housing projects—again, with the vast majority of those grants being spent in 2014, which is an election year.
Before the election, the ruling Vision Vancouver party promised 38,000 units of affordable housing in the city in the next 10 years.
There's also a plan to spend $14 million over the next two years on the removal of PCB contaminants from the Burrard and Granville bridges. Another $3 million is forecast to be spent in 2013 on rehabilitation of the Burrard Bridge.
Hastings Park will be the recipient of $16 million in capital funding, including $6 million to renew the Livestock Building.
Capital plan provides clues to the future
The capital plan always offers an indication of where the city might be going in the future.
There's $2.05 million set aside this year for a left-turn bay on Grandview Highway at Boundary Road. This could trigger opposition from cycling and pedestrian activists, who've questioned multimillion-dollar expenditures on left-turn bays in the past.
Meanwhile, there will be $615,500 spent on closed-circuit television in the city jail and interview room. After this work is completed, this will give media types and defence lawyers an opportunity to file freedom-of-information requests to obtain the video footage taken there.
Seismic upgrades costing $2 million will occur in what's known as the "city-hall precinct". And $2.55 million will be set aside for new parking meters.That's to fund a "program expansion", which means drivers will have to pony up more over time to park their vehicles on city streets.
Art projects slated to receive funding
The capital plan includes $2.4 million for new public art, but the timing of this spending is listed as "uncertain".
Money has been carried forward for lots of other projects of interest to the cultural community, including $2.28 million for the restoration of the York Theatre in East Vancouver. The timing here is also "uncertain".
In addition, $117,000 will be spent this year on restoring the Orpheum Theatre. And there's a $74,250 allocation to the Vancouver Museum Society.
Other groups that will receive carry-over capital funding include the Bill Reid Foundation ($136,000), Arts Club Theatre ($36,470), grunt gallery ($26,300), Museum of Vancouver ($21,500), Norman Rothstein Theatre ($1,531), Or Gallery Society ($100,000), Pacific Cinématheque ($19,000), Performing Arts Lodge ($22,500), Sarah MacLachlan Foundation ($50,000), Vancouver Access Artist Run Centre ($4,900), Vancouver Dance Foundation ($14,500), and the Cultch ($4,000).
Follow Charlie Smith on Twitter at twitter.com/csmithstraight.