Social housing, transportation and sewage infrastructure topped the wish list of B.C.’s largest cities yesterday on the eve of a heavy-spending federal budget that is expected to leave Canada with its first deficit in more than a decade.
Capital spending and tax cuts aim to stoke Canada’s flagging economy, but are projected to result in a $64-billion deficit over two years.
“We’ve got a long list,” said Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson by Vancouver city hall yesterday. “I’ve shared that with members of Parliament and hopefully we see some action.”
Vancouver wants funding for new social housing units and money to accelerate the completion of the Millennium Line along Broadway to the University of B.C.
Robertson also wants money for smaller transportation projects like bike greenways and for upgrades to sewage and water infrastructure.
Robertson said he heard the federal government’s commitment to social housing will focus on renovations and restoring the infrastructure, not building new units.
“I’m disappointed on the social housing front to not see an immediate commitment to new social housing unit,” Robertson said.
Last week, Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts presented a list of 34 “shovel-ready” projects — worth $900 million — to Finance Minister Jim Flaherty, Transport Minister John Baird and International Trade Minister Stockwell Day.
Topping her list are sewage-system upgrades in Bridgeview and South Westminster and the upgrading of 96th Avenue.
“Any of those projects would be fabulous,” said Watts yesterday.