City Council approves scaling back, postponing some capital project work

Will help ease funding pressures due to COVID-19

September 18 2020 –

Vancouver City Council has approved adjustments to the remainder of the 2019-2022 capital plan which will see some large, multi-year projects scaled back or postponed to help ease the funding pressures created by the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a report presented to Council on Wednesday, City staff proposed adjustments to the current capital plan, in response to an estimated $219 million in reduced development and partner contributions as a result of significantly decreased development activity and the economic downturn brought on by the pandemic.

The $254 million reduction in the capital plan reduces the four-year capital investment from $2.9 billion to $2.6 billion. As some capital projects are funded from property tax and utility fees on a pay-as-you-go basis, estimated savings of $10-$29 million are expected to help reduce the immediate pressure on property taxes and fees in 2021 and 2022. The amount the City needs to borrow to finance projects will also be reduced by roughly $17 million, lowering future debt servicing costs.

Projects that are scaled back or delayed

Examples of projects that have been scaled back or delayed to a future capital plan include:

  • City facilities renovation and construction projects including Manitoba Yards and work on City Hall campus buildings for a total of $3.25 million in savings
  • Delayed construction for a number of parks for a total of $26.3 million in savings
  • Gastown complete streets project with no construction this capital plan for $7.2 million savings
  • Georgia Gateway West complete streets project for savings of $4.5 million

A complete list of the adjustments by program and by project can be found in the appendix of the Council report (5 MB).

Even with the reduction, the revised capital plan will still deliver a wide range of notable, large-scale projects across the city, including the renewal and expansion of the Marpole-Oakridge Community Centre, a new track and field facility at Vancouver Technical School, and the expansion of the Southeast False Creek low-carbon energy centre.

Proposed allocation of funds and additional investments

As part of the capital plan adjustments, staff also proposed allocation of funds to key to support Council priorities including:

  • $48 million to support the Resilience Strategy including the Grandview Firehall renewal and expansion project and relocation of the City’s data center
  • $12 million to support climate emergency response including zero emissions buildings and public electric vehicle charging infrastructure
  • $5 million to support equity-based projects with community partners and improved accessibility at community facilities

This is along with additional investments including:

  • $11 million to support developer-led affordable housing projects that are ready to proceed
  • $16 million in new capital investments that will generate future budget savings, for example converting street lights to more efficient LED versions and parking meter upgrades for improved customer service and better street space management

Approved amendments

Council-approved amendments to the staff report included:

  • Deferral of the Vancouver Archives relocation and renewal project to the next capital plan for a savings of $15 million
  • That staff bring back recommendations to Council for increasing capital and operating investments in universal and accessible public washrooms as part of the 2021 City budget process, along with a plan to reallocate funding within the existing funding envelope to preserve the scope of the sidewalk, traffic signal, and street lighting programs