Metro Vancouver held a full board meeting on September 23rd (see agenda). Video of the entire meeting is available below:
Amendments to the Regional Growth Strategy were received by the board as part of the municipalities’ resolutions requesting amendments and reports on amendments (see sections 5.3 & 5.4, p.187)
The Tobacco Smoking Policy item was passed, to prohibit smoking in Metro Vancouver Regional Parks except for those areas designated as smoking areas effective January 1, 2012. The meeting had considerable discussion on this item and whether it is possible to enforce; special mention was made to the isolated Wreck Beach. A compromise amendment to prohibit smoking in congested areas only in Regional Parks failed.
The Budget Presentation and Financial Projections for 2012 to 2016 received close scrutiny. The budget assumed very low interest rates for the foreseeable future; there would be a significant impact if long term interest rates were to rise. Director Fox raised concerns about the magnitude of increases proposed (33% from 2012 to 2016). Director Walton mentioned that the increases are not sustainable and place a burden on fixed income residents (rates 44% increase from 2011 to 2016) when compared to the rate of inflation running at 2.1% locally. Other board members disagreed and inferred that the extra costs of services such as providing clean water are supported by the public. The budget presentation will be released soon on the metrovancouver.org website. The discussions also brought forward the idea of voluntary water metering as well as variable rate metering.
Waste management was on the agenda; with the eventual winding down of the Cache Creek landfill and the future of the Ashcroft ranch (land set aside for a possible future landfill; should it be eventually sold?). There were concerns raised by Director Corrigan that Metro corporate history is not adequately passed on to new Directors after elections (ie. in the area of waste management). Surcharges and fines on incorrect waste separation were contemplated from 2015 with a gradual phase-in of changes.
Comments on Translink’s Draft 2012 Supplemental Plan were in part passed including the comments that the inclusion of full funding for the Evergreen Link is the number one transit expansion priority. There was concern about the level of debt held by Translink (making 35-40% of all municipal debt in BC). Another 1.5 billion of debt taken on by Translink will not be missed by bond rating agencies and the ratings for other MetroVan municipal bonds could suffer as a result.
A motion to explore a Container Levy to fund transportation and/or regional growth management objectives was discussed and passed (see 4:24 of the video).
There was also a lengthy in-camera session that lasted almost an hour. It was also revealed by Director Jordan that Metro Vancouver board members receive $644 remuneration each for their participation for each day session of the board (see 4:51:50 of the video).