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Vancouver Election: 8 hot topics and where mayoral candidates stand

Vancouver residents will choose a new mayor and council in the Oct. 20 election. To help voters choose among an unusually high number of candidates, city columnist Dan Fumano has compiled brief summaries on where they stand on key issues facing the city. The following responses were submitted by seven top mayoral candidates (presented in alphabetical order) and four parties running council candidates, and have been edited for clarity and length.


Clockwise from top left: David Chen, Hector Bremner, Fred Harding, Ken Sim, Wai Young, Shauna Sylvester and Kennedy Stewart.

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Housing Affordability

Hector Bremner (Yes Vancouver): Vancouver’s current plan is 91 years old and does not allow modern forms of housing in 75 per cent of the city. Vancouver is way behind comparable cities in terms of process and technology. Yes Vancouver wants to revolutionize the way housing is planned, zoned and approved in Vancouver.

David Chen (ProVancouver): Require 50 per cent rentals for all new builds, use rental-only zoning around transit corridors, build larger temporary modular housing units to accommodate families, switch co-ops to five-year automatic renewals after first 50 years, build more co-ops and social housing. Fix maximum social housing rents at 30 per cent of median area household pre-tax income.

Fred Harding (Vancouver 1st): Vancouver 1st is committed to building affordable rental housing on city-owned land that will be targeted at costing the tenants monthly rents of $400, $900 and $1,300, for a bachelor, one- and two-bedroom unit, respectively.

Ken Sim (NPA): We need solutions that will make an impact immediately to relieve pressure on limited supply. That’s why the NPA would immediately allow two secondary suites in every detached home — of which there are around 40,000 in Vancouver. The NPA would also build dedicated rental buildings on city-owned land, fast-track housing for those who need it most, and clean up the development approval process.

Kennedy Stewart (Independent): We need housing that’s affordable for everyone. My platform includes building 85,000 homes over the next 10 years, including 25,000 affordable, non-profit run rental units, 25,000 market rental units, and 35,000 new condominiums, coach houses, and townhouses. I’ll also streamline the development process for purpose-built rental, and create a new renters’ advocate office.

Shauna Sylvester (Independent): We can’t rest until we have a three per cent rental vacancy rate and the price per square foot for housing is a better match with typical wages. I will support more purpose-built housing to create thriving neighbourhoods for children, working professionals, seniors and businesses by using City resources, renewing leases on all co-ops, and encouraging purpose-built housing through faster permitting and fee waivers.

Wai Young (Coalition Vancouver): Coalition Vancouver will not sell one square inch of city land. To decrease pressure we will allow one additional rental unit per home. Longer term we will focus on purpose-built rental buildings and co-ops. Alongside rentals and co-ops, we have a plan to build entry-level homes intended to be within reach for millennials.

Coalition of Progressive Electors (COPE): Over the past year Jean Swanson and COPE have been building a movement for a Rent Freeze, helping to reduce the 4.5 per cent rent increase for 2019. COPE will use all city powers to protect renters and small business tenants, and will tax mansions over $5 million to end homelessness in one year and build city-owned non-market rental housing in subsequent years.

Green Party of Vancouver: We will amend Vancouver’s Charter to recognize the right to housing, and redefine affordability in bylaws to be 30 per cent of income. We will set a goal of 50 per cent below-market-rate housing for new multi-residential developments and launch a city-funded, city-built housing program on city-owned land. We will change bylaws to enable affordable construction, encourage secondary suites and fast-track permits for affordable housing.

Vision Vancouver: Vision will speed up permits, zone to allow more housing options and deliver more city-built affordable housing, including co-ops, as part of a comprehensive plan for 88,000 new homes over 10 years. Vision’s school board candidates are working to pilot housing for teachers.

OneCity: OneCity believes housing is a human right. We are committed to renewing co-op leases and supporting more co-ops and co-housing. OneCity will utilize rental-only zoning and incentivize purpose-built rental housing across the city, attentive to the needs of urban Indigenous people, seniors, families, people with accessibility requirements, pet owners, and more. OneCity will strengthen tenant protections and build 25,000 truly affordable non-market housing units.

 

MORE ABOUT HOUSING AFFORDABILITY

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Elizabeth Murphy: City’s high housing growth rate making homes less affordable


Empty Homes Tax

Hector Bremner (Yes Vancouver): While the tax is generating some revenue for social housing, the 25,000 homes that were apparently empty have not materialized and local residents are being trapped in complex and invasive audits. Yes Vancouver wants to review it and focus on building middle-class housing.

David Chen (ProVancouver): Modify the tax to have a laser focus on speculators. Increase the tax on a graduated scale, heavily increasing for properties over $5 million. Credits would be graduated, so that after 20 years of living in the home, the tax would be zero for residents who have lived in their community for close to a generation.

Fred Harding (Vancouver 1st): Vancouver 1st has pledged to remove the empty homes tax, saying it is ineffective and punishes those it was not intended to tax. Vancouver 1st has also pledged to file a lawsuit against the NDP government to fight and end the new school tax surcharge on properties valued at more than $3 million.

Ken Sim (NPA): The idea that we can tax our way out of this housing crisis is wishful thinking. A much better approach is to bring new units on to the market right away — which the NPA will do by allowing two secondary suites in every detached home – while working on further increasing supply in a way that does not destroy neighbourhoods.

Kennedy Stewart (Independent): I would triple the empty homes tax. We need to take tough measures to fight the speculation that is rampant in our city and protect our local housing market from global financial forces and speculators. Homes need to be used for housing people, not sitting empty as speculative investments.

Shauna Sylvester (Independent): I would triple it. Housing is more than an asset class, and we can’t afford to let desperately needed real estate sit there unused because someone wants to park their cash here without contributing to our community. Tripling the Empty Homes Tax will help ensure homes are used to house people, not to make a speculative investment.

Wai Young (Coalition Vancouver): This was a poorly designed tax and poorly implemented. It would be something we would address in office. Simply repealing it would be reckless at this delicate stage in the housing market cycle.

Coalition of Progressive Electors (COPE): COPE was the first to propose the Empty Homes Property Tax in the 2014 civic elections. Other parties said it wasn’t possible, but now it’s common sense. COPE’s proposal included extending the tax to vacant commercial properties and empty lots. We support increasing the tax and targeting all revenues toward city-owned non-market housing.

Green Party of Vancouver: We will not remove the empty home tax, but will further clarify rules regarding exceptions. Pending a full report after the first year of implementation, we may consider increasing it. We will develop a strategy to expand the empty home tax to include commercial storefronts as a measure to reduce vacancies and prevent the hollowing out of commercial streets.

Vision Vancouver: Vision wants to triple the empty homes tax, from one per cent to three per cent, to get more people into vacant homes, to crack down on speculation that’s driving prices up, and to put more money into affordable housing initiatives in every neighbourhood.

OneCity: OneCity supports increasing the Empty Homes Tax, to ensure that homes in Vancouver are for living in, not just for investing in.

 

MORE ABOUT HOUSING TAXES

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More than 2,000 homeowners to be taxed under Vancouver’s empty homes tax


Housing Density

Hector Bremner (Yes Vancouver): Yes Vancouver appreciates the angst about the recent rezoning of single-family neighbourhoods to allow duplexes. Coun. Bremner voted for it as density was kept within the current limits for homes with basement suites and laneway houses, so this is not a big change. It allows for more affordable home ownership options in Vancouver beyond multi-million-dollar houses.

David Chen (ProVancouver): ProVancouver opposes the city’s recent rezoning of single-family neighbourhoods to allow duplexes. There was insufficient community consultation, and no community plan was done. Most of Vancouver’s sewer, water, electrical grid and street widths were based on single-family homes with low density. Increasing density without upgrading infrastructure and amenities first isn’t smart.

Fred Harding (Vancouver 1st): Density must be undertaken mindfully. Vancouver 1st is pledging to revoke Vision’s misguided mass rezoning policy to allow duplexes (in single-family neighbourhoods). Vancouver 1st has also committed to developing a comprehensive official city plan so that there is a clear and transparent plan with a new core of density to be established in South Vancouver.

Ken Sim (NPA): The NPA agrees in principle with adding more housing for the “missing middle.” But the move by a lame-duck administration to mass re-zone much of the city to allow duplexes in single-family neighbourhoods isn’t just bad for democracy, it’s bad policy. We need to have proper city-wide planning that respects individual neighbourhoods. And we need to be more transparent about decisions at City Hall.

Kennedy Stewart (Independent): Council’s recent decision to rezone single-family neighbourhoods to allow duplexes was of such magnitude that it should have been left for the next council. That said, building duplexes brings more affordable options for first-time homebuyers while retaining neighbourhood character. I would expand opportunities for ground-oriented housing in our least dense neighbourhoods.

Shauna Sylvester (Independent): While I support gentle densification, we need to make sure that any changes have the support of the people who live in that area. Homeowners who want to add affordable units should get faster permitting and fee waivers, and we need to complete neighbourhood plans for the 75 per cent of neighbourhoods that don’t have one so we can move quickly.

Wai Young (Coalition Vancouver): We are against the Making Room Policy passed by council (allowing duplexes in single-family neighbourhoods). We will repeal it. There is not a housing shortage, there is an affordable housing shortage. This policy perpetuates the problem. We will ensure every neighbourhood is consulted before reckless policies like this one are passed. We will focus on purpose-built rental housing and co-ops.

Coalition of Progressive Electors (COPE): COPE opposed the rezoning (to allow duplexes in single-family neighbourhoods) because there’s no city protection for tenants in these areas, some of which include a majority of renters. The duplex zoning doesn’t provide housing for people earning under $50,000 a year, and will likely trigger speculation. COPE supports density in neighbourhoods that have not taken their fair share of rental and social housing.

Green Party of Vancouver: Green Coun. Adriane Carr voted against rezoning (to allow duplexes in single-family neighbourhoods) because of the lack of prior public consultation regarding this city-wide rezoning, plus the simplistic focus on one housing form that may escalate land prices, and the threat of tear-downs and loss of currently affordable housing, was unsupportable. Greens support a comprehensive city-wide plan, co-developed with residents.

Vision Vancouver: Vision supports duplexes in single-family areas. We are committed to implementing the Making Room initiative and creating even more affordable housing options, including opening low-density neighbourhoods for townhouses, low-rise apartments, and other forms of housing that support affordable options for renters and families looking for affordable ownership opportunities.

OneCity: We imagine a Vancouver with more balance in housing options, including apartments, social and supportive housing, multiplexes, and co-ops in all parts of the city. However, unrestrained development will not fix the housing crisis. That is why we will prioritize affordable housing options, because people of all income levels should have access to good schools, transit, jobs, and green spaces.

 

MORE ABOUT HOUSING DENSITY

Developers, candidates and planners argue over Vancouver’s move to allow duplexes

Growth, density lead the debate in most council races in Metro Vancouver

Reilly Wood: Density in single-family zones will be huge Vancouver election issue

New report suggests Vancouver’s density could handle more people and housing


Overdose Crisis

Hector Bremner (Yes Vancouver): We need to reinvest in the Four Pillars office at City Hall and Yes Vancouver will support programs that replace street drugs with safer alternatives so long as it moves people to care and long-term treatment. No-barrier housing is critical to this, therefore Yes Vancouver will ensure significant investment in this area.

David Chen (ProVancouver): Increase the amount of temporary modular housing and push to decriminalize drug use as in the Netherlands. ProVancouver would also employ other streams of therapy like Beauty Night Society’s long-standing method of building self-esteem through wellness, life skills and makeovers.

Fred Harding (Vancouver 1st): Vancouver 1st will focus on treatment and rehabilitation. We intend to build a state-of-the-art mental care facility on city property with more than enough beds for today and tomorrow, because so much of addiction and street living is caused by an inadequacy in mental health services. Vision and the NDP have failed these people.

Ken Sim (NPA): An NPA working group is seeking new ideas to tackle homelessness, the opioid crisis, and mental health. We also need to get needles off our streets and out of our parks. Three hundred dirty needles a month are picked up at Andy Livingstone Park, which is also a playground for Crosstown Elementary School.

Kennedy Stewart (Independent): I would form an emergency task force to work with the community to improve the health and quality of life of Downtown Eastside residents. The task force will focus on preventing more deaths from fentanyl, negotiating a new Vancouver Agreement to foster greater cooperation between all levels of government, supporting front-line workers and identifying substance substitution programs.

Shauna Sylvester (Independent): We have allowed the opioid poisoning crisis to get worse by inaction towards addressing addiction issues through a comprehensive public health approach. My strategy supports the proven Four Pillars approach, community support models, comprehensive care access, and collaboration with senior levels of government. We need to move beyond misinformation, discrimination, stigma, and fear and deliver empathetic and effective responses.

Wai Young (Coalition Vancouver): This is a heartbreaking issue and it affects many more families than most people understand. I lost a son to this very crisis. We have a plan, to be released soon, to approach this from a new perspective that has never been tried before.

Coalition of Progressive Electors (COPE): COPE will advocate for senior governments to decriminalize drugs and to ensure access to safe, clean and free drugs so people who use drugs don’t have to die. The city can also put oxygen tanks in community centres to help revive people who overdose and can fund community groups who support harm reduction and ending stigma against drug users.

Green Party of Vancouver: We will call on the federal government to decriminalize drug possession in order to treat addiction as a health issue. This means displacing the poisoned drug supply with clean drugs to be administered under medical supervision as the first step to treatment. We will push for more treatment beds and a comprehensive strategy including long-term treatment and stable housing.

Vision Vancouver: Vision will build on the City’s integrated opioid response plan by championing new Overdose Prevention Sites in supportive housing, an Opioid Crisis Fund to support first responders, a renewed focus on mental health and addiction, the decriminalization of drug possession in small amounts while getting tougher on trafficking, de-stigmatization and prevention among kids, and clean, prescription options for people suffering from addiction.

OneCity: OneCity believes that the “war on drugs” has failed, resulting in disproportionately high incarceration rates in Indigenous and black communities and an epidemic of overdose deaths. We support evidence-based, public-health solutions that address the root causes of the overdose crisis, including decriminalizing all drugs, and taking a housing-first approach. We will strengthen supports for front line responders, expand city-wide needle collection and advocate for more provincial and federal supports.

 

MORE ABOUT OVERDOSE CRISIS

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B.C.’s two largest health boards offer new addictions services to address overdose crisis


Broadway Subway

Hector Bremner (Yes Vancouver): The plan must include housing and jobs along the line that can both ensure this major investment is capitalized on and funded. That includes looking to UBC and ensuring we have a plan to unlock equity in the surrounding area to help generate funds to complete the line.

David Chen (ProVancouver): If the money is there and the deal is done, it should go to UBC. Stopping at Arbutus is illogical. For a more affordable option, switching to hydrogen fuel cell electric buses will keep costs down, increase capacity without trolley wires, and empty buses won’t impede full buses. The hydrogen fuel cell can be swapped out faster than recharging times needed for battery-powered buses.

Fred Harding (Vancouver 1st): Vancouver 1st wants the subway to go all the way to UBC. The party wants a bored  tunnel; not cut-and-cover. Because it’s going to be going to UBC, which will benefit greatly from it, it should pay in a suitable portion of the final bill.

Ken Sim (NPA): The NPA is 100 per cent in favour of the Broadway subway. It should go all the way to UBC. But we need a solid plan with UBC and TransLink to get us there. Too many billions are wasted because politicians make big promises before the details are ready.

Kennedy Stewart (Independent): I support SkyTrain along Broadway to UBC. We need to invest in our transit infrastructure, but we need partners to make this happen. I would work hard to secure federal, provincial, and UBC funding to extend SkyTrain along the Broadway corridor to the university.

Shauna Sylvester (Independent): I’m committed to working with all levels of government and partners to ensure we build the Broadway Subway all the way to UBC. We can’t create a choke hold at Arbutus. UBC represents a key economic centre and a major employer. Once we have started the digging process we need to complete the extension to UBC.

Wai Young (Coalition Vancouver): Coalition Vancouver is in favour of the subway extension all the way to UBC. We want to decrease the number of cars on the road, reduce pollution, and reduce congestion. Alongside what will be an extensive cut-and-cover building operation, we are also committed to helping businesses deal during the construction phase.

Coalition of Progressive Electors (COPE): Vancouver needs a drastic expansion of rapid transit and buses, but transit must be affordable. COPE has a plan for a “U-Pass for the working class,” which includes free transit for kids and low-income transit users, and $41-a-month U-Pass for middle-income Vancouverites, taking 40,000 cars off the road. This program could be fully funded by Vancouver’s portion of B.C.’s recently announced carbon tax increase.

Green Party of Vancouver: The Greens would not seek to change the plan for the Broadway Subway to Arbutus, which is supported by regional mayors and significantly funded by senior governments — both of which are hard to get. Greens will push to protect businesses, heritage buildings and rental housing along the route, reduce the $500 million projected cost overrun and require studies to ensure the best transit options city-wide.

Vision Vancouver: Vision will fight to get the Broadway Subway built all the way to UBC, to improve commutes, reduce congestion, and make life better. We will make sure Vancouver seizes this once-in-a-generation opportunity to improve our transportation infrastructure, boost our local economy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change.

OneCity: OneCity supports more robust, affordable and accessible public transit in every part of Vancouver. We support the Broadway Subway plan, and will work with the Province and UBC to ensure it goes all the way to UBC. In addition, we support the #AllOnBoard campaign’s call for free transit for children and youth under 18, and a sliding scale monthly pass system based on income.

 

MORE ABOUT TRANSPORTATION

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Governance

Hector Bremner (Yes Vancouver): The electoral system is fine, Yes Vancouver says, we just need to stop passing decision-making to only two core groups: left and right, or Vision and the NPA. We need fresh perspectives that come from outside the status quo political thinking.

David Chen (ProVancouver): Before tinkering with established electoral systems, we need to work on reconnecting city hall to the people. Committed to holding town hall meetings once a year in all 23 sub-districts of Vancouver as  two-way, face-to-face communication between the residents and council.

Fred Harding (Vancouver 1st): Vancouver 1st wants more voices added to the debates.The province’s new election finance laws have stifled discourse by handcuffing candidates. Vancouver 1st wants more millennials out there participating, not just voting.

Ken Sim (NPA): The NPA says it is worried about the impact that secret money has had on this election. Labour groups paid for 100,000 flyers promoting Kennedy Stewart, and four full-time union staff are working to support Stewart and the rest of the labour council’s endorsed candidates, without being required to count it as part of his campaign expenses. We need to re-think the new electoral finance rules.

Kennedy Stewart (Independent): We need to end anonymous advertising. Candidates and third-parties need to disclose donations. Our current at-large system lacks community representation. I promise this election will be the last under this system. Voters need to have confidence that city staff and politicians don’t have conflicts of interest. I will prohibit elected officials and key staff from accepting government contracts or lobbying for 12 months after leaving.

Shauna Sylvester (Independent): My platform proposes a new Hybrid Ward system where five City Council members are elected to represent specific wards in the city, and five are elected to represent the city at-large to ensure that Council pays attention to local communities while still deciding on larger city-wide issues. I will also use my experience with facilitation to build a culture of collaboration and cooperation on council.

Wai Young (Coalition Vancouver): We have to get big money out of politics. Unions, developers and big business have been shaping policies for years and even this very election. This is wrong. With no ties to special interest groups, we will ensure that our electoral system is fair and operates in a way that benefits the very people we are meant to serve.

Coalition of Progressive Electors (COPE): COPE has been fighting for a ward system for over 40 years because the current at-large voting system benefits parties with big money funding and makes it nearly impossible for neighbourhood activists to be elected. Wards can be introduced by a simple majority vote at city council. It may also be possible to introduce proportional representation in Vancouver, especially if the November referendum supports PR.

Green Party of Vancouver: We will require more transparency in budgeting and negotiations with developers, new guidelines for public engagement and more efficient permitting. We will increase access to Council with regular “open mic” sessions. We will push the province to amend local election financing legislation to close loopholes, cap donations and ban corporate and union donations all the time, not just in election years.

Vision Vancouver: Vision will take action to ensure residents are part of decision-making. We would call a Citizens Assembly on Local Election Reform to focus on these issues. In addition, Vision will improve inclusion by prioritizing engagement with people who are underrepresented in decision-making, including millennials, newcomers and urban Indigenous people.

OneCity: We support Vancouver’s 2017 Independent Election Task Force recommendation that the City convene a citizens assembly to make recommendations on switching to a proportional election system. Adopting a proportional election system would better reflect how Vancouverites cast their votes, and would create more diverse and representative city councils.

 

MORE ABOUT GOVERNANCE

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Walking and biking

Hector Bremner (Yes Vancouver): The politics over the last 10 years have been very divisive as we were not allowed the housing forms we need to support active transportation, but good transportation and good planning are linked. We need a city plan that people feel engaged in to build a Vancouver that makes them less reliant on a car.

David Chen (ProVancouver): Bike lanes are needed, but not on arterial routes. Idling cars create worse exhaust than cars moving from start to destination. All future bike infrastructure would be part of the complete community plan that includes planning recommendations, community and user input.

Fred Harding (Vancouver 1st): Vancouver 1st believes cycling routes on the side streets should remain, and that all other cycling routes should be seasonal, with two exceptions: the West 10th Avenue cycling route in front of the hospital should be removed and the Adanac Overpass should be reopened to all traffic.

Ken Sim (NPA): Over the last 20 years our streets have gotten more congested, even though the number of cars hasn’t changed much. Bike lanes are important, and the NPA supports them, but there are some cases where bike lanes may be in the wrong places, such as near hospital entrances. The NPA will also review barriers to traffic flow, because we are all suffering from poor planning decisions.

Kennedy Stewart (Independent): Bike lanes are key to reducing road congestion. I support separated bike lanes as a way to encourage more people to cycle, and keep them safe. Ensuring people can afford to live close to where they work is the best way to encourage active transportation, and when we expand infrastructure we need to do it in a way that keeps all modes of transport moving.

Shauna Sylvester (Independent): I support the expansion of the City’s bicycle infrastructure. Having separated bike lanes is a safety issue. I support making cycling infrastructure safe for children, families, and seniors who might not otherwise feel comfortable using it. I commit to updating the Mayors’ Council Transportation 2040 Plan to increase the target for share of trips by bike from 12 per cent to 25 per cent.

Wai Young (Coalition Vancouver): No new separated bike lanes unless one is removed from some place else. That said, we love intelligent bike lanes, just not bike lanes intentionally placed to obstruct traffic. We will audit all bike lanes for use and effectiveness. Common sense solutions, and we will get Vancouver moving again.

Coalition of Progressive Electors (COPE): The expansion of bike lanes increased dramatically starting in 1998 under the advocacy of COPE city councillor and climate scientist Fred Bass. COPE will continue to strongly support expansion of cycling and pedestrian safety infrastructure because these measures get people out of cars and are essential components in fighting climate change.

Green Party of Vancouver: We will aim to make Vancouver the most walkable city in North America. We support the expansion of Vancouver’s bicycle infrastructure, but would like to see improvements including connecting routes to increase efficiency; promoting safe cycling in public schools; a clear cost reckoning of city-subsidized bike share; and slower, safer residential streets with a mandated 30k speed limit.

Vision Vancouver: Vision supports protected bike lanes that keep people safe. Under Vision, Vancouver has seen tremendous growth in cycling in our city, especially among women and children. This is good for people’s health and the environment. Vision will continue to lead on active transportation by widening sidewalks and by expanding bike share in Vancouver.

OneCity: OneCity supports making the safety of pedestrians, cyclists and transit users a priority. We will also initiate a city-wide accessibility audit and increase the city budget for curb ramps. OneCity believes a city that works for eight-year-olds and 80-year-olds is a better place for all.

 

MORE ABOUT WALKING AND BIKING

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Taxation

Hector Bremner (Yes Vancouver): We need to conduct a review to ensure we are spending taxpayer dollars wisely, implement a new city plan that unlocks new revenue streams, and split residential from commercial (small business) and non-profit property assessments. This would level out tax increases and get us back on to a healthy financial track.

David Chen (ProVancouver): Lowering taxes without lowering expenses leads to deficits, borrowing and increased liability on the tax payer. A complete audit of the finances, core review and private contracts review needs to be done along with a switch from in-kind development amenity transfers to cash-only to normalize finances, then lower taxes if possible.

Fred Harding (Vancouver 1st): Residential taxes for seniors will be frozen and reduced. An ombudsman for business will be set up to address on a case-by-case basis taxes paid by shopkeepers. Property taxes will be reviewed, and Vancouver 1st  aims to significant cut property tax cuts as Vancouver’s fiscal situation is turned around.

Ken Sim (NPA): The NPA goal is to cap property tax increases to the rate of inflation. Right now, residents are seeing increases that are too high, without a corresponding increase in services. We will also do a much-needed full review of all the programs and policies at City Hall to find efficiencies. I think we’ll find a lot of room for improvement.

Kennedy Stewart (Independent): Tax policies would remain about the same if I were mayor. I have met with local business improvement associations and understand their concerns. I am committed to conducting a review of all city policies that impact small business, including taxation and permitting, to help support and grow our neighbourhood-based economy.

Shauna Sylvester (Independent): I will call for the appointment of a Small Business Ombudsperson. I also commit to delivering a financial report to the public on where tax revenue has been spent within 100 days as mayor to inform discussion about taxation. I’m also looking at working with B.C. Assessment and the provincial government to create a new assessment category for small businesses.

Wai Young (Coalition Vancouver): Immediately, city taxes and fees will be lowered. We will be ordering a full forensic review of the city’s books and be requesting that every department outside of sanitation find a five per cent reduction in costs.

Coalition of Progressive Electors (COPE): COPE believes in progressive property tax, with a higher rate on more expensive properties. The Mansion Tax is a progressive tax whose revenues will be targeted to build modular and non-market housing. COPE will protect small neighbourhood businesses by seeking to establish progressive tax brackets for small, medium and large businesses.

Green Party of Vancouver: Residents can expect taxes to stay relatively the same. They can also expect more transparency, with detailed line items on city budgets — so that taxpayers know their money is being well-spent. We would seek to lighten the tax load for business through split assessment and targeted property tax reductions for long-term independently owned neighbourhood small businesses.

Vision Vancouver: Under Vision, council invested in priorities and public services that matter to people while balancing budgets. This approach has served people well. One provincial tax change we do want fixed is how small businesses are assessed at the much higher rate of a potential condo development. This is unfair for businesses and needs to be fixed.

OneCity: OneCity is proposing a Land Value Tax to dampen speculation while ensuring that real increases in land value create benefits for everyone. Revenue raised will fund affordable housing and expanded public transit. We will also work to make arts and cultural spaces affordable through a targeted tax exemption, and will support local businesses by creating a new classification of tax rates that differentiate between local independent businesses and chain stores.

 

MORE ABOUT TAXATION

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