We're already getting to that time of year where governments big and small are thinking about their upcoming budgets, and the Metro Vancouver Regional District (MRVRD) recently made a formal submission to the Government of Canada seeking over $450M for various projects.

The submission lays out three recommendations.

The first is that the Government of Canada commit to "equitable cost sharing" as it relates to the Iona Island Wastewater Treatment Plant project, where the federal government, Province, and MVRD would each contribute $250M (one third) of the costs over five years for the first phase of the project.

Metro Vancouver says the current plant does not meet future provincial and federal regulations and needs to be upgraded. While Phase One is currently estimated to cost $750M in total, the second phase is expected to reach $8.6B as it consists of the bulk of the plant replacement. The third and final phase is then expected to cost $500M, from 2036 to 2039.

"We simply cannot wait any longer for a federal commitment to our most pressing project — the Iona Island Wastewater Treatment Plant," said MVRD Board Chair George Harvie in a letter dated November 21 to Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland that accompanied the submission. "This is a massive project that will unfold over the next two decades. It must be completed to meet regulatory requirements and protect the environment as mandated by your government."

The MVRD's second recommendation is that the federal government work with Metro Vancouver to implement actions set out in the MVRD's Climate 2050 Strategy and Clean Air Plan. The MVRD says the federal government can do this by continuing to provide funding for the purchase of new and used zero-emission vehicles for low and middle-income households, increasing funding for deep carbon retrofits and heat pump retrofits, and enhancing incentives for industrial facilities to reduce emissions.

The third recommendation was on the issue of housing, where the MVRD is asking the Government of Canada to contribute $166M in financing and $40M in forgivable loans, outside of the existing Co-Investment Fund (renamed as the Affordable Housing Fund in the Fall Economic Statement announced in November). The MVRD is also asking the federal government to sign a memorandum of understanding similar to what was signed by the Province in April 2023.

Metro Vancouver says its housing arm, Metro Vancouver Housing, has the capacity to deliver 2,000 new and redeveloped units over the next 10 years, across seven different municipalities, and has contributed over $217M (in cash equity and land) towards this, which can be accelerated with the commitment the MVRD is seeking.

"The Province knows Metro Vancouver is a reliable and values-aligned partner, and has invested $158 million in grant funding and signed an MOU to support the delivery of over 2,000 new units," wrote Harvie in the letter to Freeland. "Now, we need the federal government to match this support to complete this important work. All three parties working together can make a meaningful contribution to addressing housing need in this region.

"In our many conversations with ministers and MPs, we've heard time and again that the federal government is interested in partnering with us to deliver on our shared goals," Harvie added. "We have a dedicated partner in the Province of BC, and we need the federal government to do the same."

Over the last few months, the Metro Vancouver Regional District has had a bumpy relationship with the federal government, as a result of the MVRD's proposal to raise development cost charges (DCCs). The proposal prompted Minister of Housing Sean Fraser to suspend Housing Accelerator Fund (HAF) announcements that had already been approved for Burnaby and Surrey. The MVRD ultimately still went through with the DCC increases, and there has yet to be any HAF announcements for Metro Vancouver municipalities.

In the letter to Freeland, delivered via email, Harvie copied Premier David Eby, BC Minister of Housing Ravi Kahlon, as well as Fraser.