Liberal Party of Canada

On August 21, Metro Vancouver sent letters to Canada’s four largest political parties with the seven questions you will see on this website. Responses have been requested by September 27.

Metro Vancouver’s 5-Year Outlook 2019 – 2023



If elected, will your party commit to providing permanent, predictable, and sustainable funding sources for infrastructure projects to meet the needs of a growing population in Metro Vancouver?

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    Metro Vancouver is responsible for providing services that keep half of the population of British Columbia healthy and safe, including clean water and air, solid and liquid waste management, regional planning and parks. But with another 35,000 more people moving here ever year, Metro Vancouver’s services and infrastructure are under pressure.

    Like other local governments, Metro Vancouver relies primarily on property taxes, user fees, and transfers from senior orders of government to fund its infrastructure projects. But with only 10 cents of every tax dollar coming to municipalities, funding is severely limited.

    Federal funding programs do exist and help local governments build, maintain and upgrade critical infrastructure. However, the criteria for these programs are often inconsistent and timelines can change dramatically with a change in government. This uncertainty undermines long-term planning and often results in delays and cost increases to essential projects.

    Local governments require more predictable funding sources for necessary, non-discretionary infrastructure projects. The Federation of Canadian Municipalities, for instance, is calling on federal parties to commit to a permanent doubling of the Gas Tax Fund transfer to local governments, which would provide local governments with a direct source of funding so they can plan for the future.

  • Response

    In the last four years, we have made real progress when it comes to moving forward with the infrastructure communities across the country need – from community centres that bring people together to more efficient and reliable public transit in our biggest cities. More than 48,000 projects have been approved under the Investing in Canada Plan, the vast majority of which are already underway, creating good, middle class jobs and making our communities better places to live.

    In Metro Vancouver, over the last 4 years, the federal government has made significant investments. We’ve invested in better transit with money for the Broadway Line extension, fleet expansions on the Millennium, Expo and Canada Lines, an additional Sea Bus, investments to extend train service in Surrey and the Fraser Valley, as well as funds for station renovations, maintenance and upgrades. We’ve also invested in protecting our waters and health, providing more than $200 million for the Lion’s Gate Wastewater Treatment plant.

    Through Budget 2019, we’re investing an additional $2.2 billion to make sure that infrastructure funding gets into the hands of the people willing and able to get projects done–our local and municipal governments. We are also ensuring that unspent infrastructure funds from older, inactive programs are transferred to municipalities through the Gas Tax Fund to support local infrastructure priorities. That means more roads, bridges, and green projects that are creating jobs, getting people home from work faster, and growing the economy.

    To make sure that the infrastructure that people and communities need is built, we will also require that all provinces and territories identify and approve all of their long-term infrastructure priorities within the next two years. Funds that aren’t designated for specific projects by the end of 2021 will be reinvested directly in communities through a top-up of the federal Gas Tax Fund. Funds that can be used to add more buses, sky trains, upgrade transit stations, and improve roadways to keep people moving.

    To give cities the predictable transit funding they need to plan for the future, we will move forward with making the federal commitment to fund public transit permanent, and will make sure that it keeps up with the rising cost of construction over time. This will mean an additional $3 billion more per year in stable, predictable funding for our cities’ transit needs, on top of transfers through the federal Gas Tax Fund.

If elected, will your party commit to contributing at least 40% of the costs of infrastructure projects such as wastewater treatment plant upgrades?

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    Metro Vancouver’s Liquid Waste Services face a host of regulatory requirements from other orders of government, including federally mandated upgrades to wastewater treatment plants.

    Current projects include upgrading the Iona Island Wastewater Treatment Plant to secondary treatment at a cost of $1.9 billion. Such projects also come with prescribed timelines for completion – 2030 for Iona – yet Metro Vancouver and local governments often don’t have the necessary revenue sources to complete such improvements on their own.

    The New Building Canada Plan was instrumental in securing funding for the Lions Gate Wastewater Treatment Plant, now known as the North Shore Wastewater Treatment Plant, but that fund will be eliminated in 2023-2024. A new federal commitment to contribute at least 40% of the cost of infrastructure projects is necessary to complete future projects on time.

  • Response

    Our communities should be healthy and safe places for Canadian families to live and work. Our Liberal government has been investing in green infrastructure to protect our communities from the challenges of climate change, and grow a greener, more efficient economy, including investing in cleaner and safer water for Canadians and a healthier environment by funding more than 2,800 water and wastewater management projects. Under the Investing in Canada Plan integrated bilateral agreements, the federal government will invest up to 40% of municipal and not-for-profit projects and up to 50% of provincial projects. We will continue to listen and partner with communities, and invest in the infrastructure needed to build a better Canada. Right here in BC that has meant thousands of renovations and new units for families that need them most, as well as new investments in the services that are helping those most vulnerable who are homeless. As we go forward with implementation, we will continue to monitor the investments we have made to ensure that we are able fulfill our commitments to reduce chronic homelessness by 50 per cent and remove more than 500,000 households from core housing need.

If elected, will your party maintain and expand funding levels and priorities of the national housing strategy?

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    With approximately 10,000 people on the BC Housing waitlist and a growing population, Metro Vancouver estimates it will need more than 5,500 new rental units every year for the next 10 years in order to meet critical demand for affordable housing across the region. This includes lower-end market housing, subsidized housing and social housing.

    In the 1970s and 1980s, the federal government was a major partner in the development of affordable housing across the country, ensuring rents remained affordable. But, with the federal government’s withdrawal from the affordable housing space in the 1990s and 2000s, the supply of affordable housing hasn’t kept up with demand.

    The recently implemented National Housing Strategy has been a major step towards addressing the housing affordability crisis felt acutely in Metro Vancouver, but more can and must be done to build up supply.

  • Response

    Every Canadian deserves a safe and affordable place to call home. Our government has been investing in housing that puts people first, helps build stronger communities, creates jobs, and supports the local economy. We launched Canada’s very first National Housing Strategy – a once-in-a-generation $55 billion investment to fight homelessness and improve access to housing across the country. While the Harper government cut funding and ignored affordable housing for years, our government has made the most investments in housing in Canadian history. By investing in affordable housing, we’re giving everyone a strong foundation so they can build a better future. We remain committed to this historic investment in affordable housing. Right here in BC that has meant thousands of renovations and new units for families that need them most, as well as new investments in the services that are helping those most vulnerable who are homeless. As we go forward with implementation, we will continue to monitor the investments we have made to ensure that we are able fulfill our commitments to reduce chronic homelessness by 50 per cent and remove more than 500,000 households from core housing need.

If elected, will your party increase the CMHC’s grant programs in order to more fully expedite the building of more affordable housing?

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    Metro Vancouver Housing provides safe and affordable rental homes to more than 9,000 people on 49 sites across the region. Many of these housing sites were built with the help of previous federal government funding programs.

    The current Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) programming, under the National Housing Strategy, prioritizes low-interest loans over grants for affordable housing. While these loans are important for financing projects, they force housing providers to allocate revenue to repay loans instead of investing in new affordable housing

    Grants would reduce the risk taken on by housing providers and would let them provide more affordable housing at a much faster pace—something desperately needed in the Metro Vancouver region if we are to address housing affordability.

    Without an expedited building of affordable units in Metro Vancouver the prosperity, economy and livability will be severely impacted.

  • Response

    Our government has been investing in housing that puts people first, helps build stronger communities, creates jobs, and supports the local economy. We launched Canada’s very first National Housing Strategy – a once-in-a-generation $55 billion investment to fight homelessness and improve access to housing across the country. We remain committed to this historic investment in affordable housing.

If elected, will your party commit to at least doubling the $2 billion Disaster Mitigation and Adaptation Fund in consultation with local governments?

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    Metro Vancouver is already experiencing the effects of climate change with hotter summers and warmer, wetter winters. These seasonal changes in weather patterns are anticipated to result in extended drought periods, an increase in rainfall intensity and a one-metre rise in sea level by 2100.

    It is essential to ensure Metro Vancouver’s infrastructure is resilient to the changing climate and other potential disasters. If we don’t prepare, this level of environmental change will significantly affect the quality of life in the region and have severe financial impacts for residents, businesses and governments.

    The federal Disaster Mitigation and Adaptation Fund currently commits $2 billion nationwide to resiliency projects and upgrades, but this is not enough to meet the needs of all communities across the country. This could result in worthy projects being postponed, putting communities at risk.

  • Response

    Climate change is happening and it is affecting Canadian communities from coast-to-coast-to-coast. More and more Canadians realize that natural hazards like floods, wildland fires and winter storms are increasing in frequency and intensity. Building on the $2 billion we have already invested in helping communities prepare for and prevent weather related disasters like floods and fires, we will move forward with an additional $1 billion investment over the next decade in the Disaster Mitigation and Adaptation Fund, so communities have a proactive, permanent and sustainable way to address the emerging threats of climate change.

If elected, will your party commit to improving regulatory standards for air, marine and rail emissions to help Metro Vancouver and others fight against air pollution and climate change?

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    Metro Vancouver is in the process of implementing a regional climate strategy—Climate 2050—that will guide climate change policy and action in the region over the next 30 years. Metro Vancouver’s Board has also committed to becoming a carbon neutral region by 2050.

    In order to achieve these ambitious goals, greater federal regulations are required to address greenhouse gas emissions on a national level. This includes strengthening regulations around emissions from air, marine and rail modes of transportation as they contribute over one-third of the region’s total greenhouse gas emissions.

  • Response

    When it comes to fighting climate change, one thing is clear: doing less costs people more. The best way through the climate emergency we are all facing is forward – toward a net-zero emissions future. To help achieve this goal by 2050, we will:

    • set legally-binding, five-year milestones, based on the advice of the experts and consultations with Canadians, to reach net-zero emissions;
    • appoint a group of scientists, economists, and experts to recommend the best path to get to net-zero;
    • exceed Canada’s 2030 emissions goal by introducing new carbon reducing measures; and
    • ensure energy workers and communities can shape their own futures by introducing a Just Transition Act, giving workers access to the training, support, and new opportunities needed to succeed in the clean economy.

    The transportation sector is Canada’s second largest source of greenhouse gas emissions, accounting for 173 megatonnes or 24% of the national total. Transport Canada leads a suite of regulatory measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the rail, aviation and marine sectors, and also supports emission reductions from the on-road sector.

    For instance, our government has moved forward on a range of activities related to rail emissions, including:

    • Funding 10 university projects through the Clean Rail Academic Grant Program in 2016/17, including work on developing a wireless charging system for an electric rail system;
    • implementing new Locomotive Emissions Regulations in June 2017 to reduce the emissions of air pollutants from new locomotives;
    • addressing GHG emissions from the rail sector through the joint Canada–U.S. locomotive emissions initiative under the Regulatory Cooperation Council, a voluntary agreement with the Canadian rail industry, and research activities to enhance understanding of new technologies to reduce GHG emissions; and
    • supporting research and analysis on new technologies and practices that improve efficiency through the Regulatory Cooperation Council and Transport Canada’s Clean Rail Academic Grant Program, thereby leading to reductions in GHG emissions or emission intensity.

    Canada’s Shore Power Technology for Ports program has also invested over $19.5 million in Canadian port authorities, terminal operators and ferry operators to support the deployment of marine shore power technology. The program reduces emissions by reducing ship idling at ports. We have also moved forward with a significant pilot project that will deliver quieter, lower-emissions tankers for transporting oil from the Trans Mountain pipeline.

    To help make Canada’s ports some of the world’s cleanest in the world, a re-elected Liberal government will support efforts that convert ships from heavy oil and diesel, such as the ferries serving Canada’s coastal communities. We will work with partners over the next year to design and introduce appropriate programs.

    A re-elected Liberal government will continue to improve air quality and fight climate change by investing in green technology and pursuing effective emissions regulation of the aviation, marine and rail sectors.

If elected, will your party support the acquisition and protection of regional parkland and ecological conservancy areas?

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    With Metro Vancouver adding 35,000 people every year and the number of park visitors rapidly increasing, our regional parks are quickly reaching their capacity. In order to maintain livability for current and future generations, we need to ensure a vibrant and robust regional parks system.

    Between 2009 and 2014, over 1,600 hectares of sensitive ecosystems across the Metro Vancouver region were lost—the equivalent of losing four Stanley Parks over five years. Ten percent of the region is made up of sensitive terrestrial ecosystems that could still be protected.

    But in the face of escalating land costs and development pressure, acquiring new parkland and ecological conservation areas has become increasingly difficult. Although the Canada Nature Fund in 2018 committed $500 million for ecological conservancy activities, local governments were not identified as eligible participants.

    With a limited ability to raise funds, Metro Vancouver will need support from other orders of government if we are to protect these sensitive areas and preserve parkland for current and future generations. This has been highlighted in Metro Vancouver’s Regional Parks Land Acquisition 2050 Strategy where Metro Vancouver outlines the need for partnership and collaboration with the federal government in order to acquire park lands.

  • Response

    Our Government has committed to conserve at least 17% of terrestrial and freshwater areas, and 10% of marine and coastal areas, by 2020. This represents a doubling the amount of protected lands and oceans by 2020. In Budget 2018, the Government announced $1.3 billion over five years to support Canada’s biodiversity and protect species at risk, including $500 million to create a new Nature Fund to protect species at risk, expand wildlife areas and sanctuaries, manage protected areas, implement the Species at Risk Act, and establish a coordinated network of conservation areas. Since 2015, we have protected an additional 530,000 km2 of our land and oceans – an area a little bigger than Spain. We will continue to work with provinces, territories, Indigenous communities and scientists to protect, sustain, and restore our species in their natural habitat.

    To protect more of Canada for our kids and grandkids to enjoy, we will move forward with an ambitious plan to conserve 25 per cent of Canada’s land and 25 per cent of Canada’s oceans by 2025, working toward 30 per cent in each by 2030.