Prior to the onset of COVID-19, the City of Vancouver was planning to spend $2.889 billion on its 2019-2022 capital plan supporting the construction of new facilities and infrastructure.
The majority of the budget, $1.63 billion, depended on payments from developers, spurred by their real estate development projects.
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This includes $953 million from cash community amenity contributions (CACs) and development cost levies (DCLs), $110 million from connection fees and services funding, and $570 million from in-kind value developer contributions.
But with the pandemic’s economic impact, the expected CACs and DCLs will fall by about 25% — a drop of $236 million to $717 million. This single decrease accounts for most of the changes to the available budget for the capital plan.
Over the past decade, a significantly higher proportion of Vancouver’s new community and recreational amenities — including new public parks and open spaces, childcare, transportation infrastructure, arts and culture spaces, and social housing — depend on funding from developer contributions through CACs.
There is a further loss of $15 million, with TransLink’s contribution falling from $68 million to $53 million, including about $10 million from the maintenance of the Major Road Network.
The proportion of the municipal government’s self-funded budget is almost unchanged, falling from $1.095 billion to $1.075 billion, including the $11-million drop in taxpayer-funded capital from $224 million to $213 million.
As a result, the overall capital plan budget has dropped by about 10% to $2.635 billion.
“Pay-as-you-go” capital funding from both taxes and utility fees combined, totalling $403 million, will finance a “recalibrated” capital plan, with planning work and construction for projects either delayed or seeing their scopes deferred.
No budgetary changes have been made to the $158-million budget for childcare, and only marginal cuts have been made to affordable housing (-$15.3 million to $584.5 million), community facilities (-$12.9 million to $229.9 million), civic facilities and equipment (-$5.3 million to $106.3 million), and transportation and street use (-$10.5 million to $315.5 million).
The largest cuts were to parks and open spaces (-$43.5 million to $225.5 million), arts and culture (-$58.1 million to $131.2 million), water utilities (-$113.7 million to $503.5 million), and emerging priorities (-$65 million to $23 million).
Some of the major transportation projects that will proceed include the Granville Bridge Connector walking and cycling pathway, with its deferred scope budget falling from $25 million to $14.5 million.
Due to deferred scope, the redesign of Gastown’s streets and West Georgia Street have seen their budgets fall respectively to $10 million from $2.8 million and $7 million from $2.5 million.
The $12.1-million budget for bus stop upgrades is unchanged, but the budget for new sidewalks will fall from $7.4 million to $3.9 million. The municipal government previously set aside $5 million for the planning of its new and expanded City Hall campus, but this has dropped to $2.75 million with deferred scope changes.
Emerging priorities that are unaffected include $40 million for the new Grandview Fire Hall, $8 million to relocate the city’s data centre outside the Lower Mainland’s earthquake zone, and $12 million for climate change response, such as $8 million for “advancing mode share targets and electric vehicles,” $4 million for zero emission buildings, and $5 million for equity projects.
City council approved the capital plan changes in a meeting last week.