The 2017 Federal Budget was released on March 22, with a major focus on creating cleaner oceans, smarter cities and greener sources of energy, as well as the implementation of major Housing and childcare strategies to help improve people’s lives.
Firstly, ocean protection is an area that I have worked hard to draw greater attention to since my time as Environment Minister in the BC Legislature. This is why I am happy to announce that the 2017 Budget has allocated funds for the comprehensive Oceans Protection Plan (OPP). The OPP is a $1.5 billion investment in the future of our coasts and oceans, which includes provisions to restoring marine ecosystems, as well as enhance protection for the Southern Resident Killer Whale populations, increase domestic and international scientific collaboration on oil spill response, and invest in research to support new and refined oceanographic oil spill trajectory models. A substantial portion of the OPP is also dedicated to the coast guard to beef up prevention, ensure responsible shipping, and reducing spill risks.
The Smart Cities Challenge is another exciting new initiative coming out of the 2017 Budget, which will encourage cities to adopt new and innovative approaches to city-building. The Government proposes to provide Infrastructure Canada with $300 million over 11 years to launch this fund, which would invite cities across Canada to develop Smart Cities Plans, together with local government, citizens, businesses and civil society. Participants will create ambitious plans to improve the quality of life for urban residents, through better city planning and implementation of clean, digitally connected technology including greener buildings, smart roads and energy systems, and advanced digital connections for homes and businesses. Vancouver and BC are leading on these initiatives, which are rolling out throughout Canada.
Budget 2017 is also investing $5.0 billion over five years in infrastructure that supports Canada’s ongoing transition to a clean growth economy, which includes money earmarked for the Broadway Subway.
This investment is part of the Government’s overarching infrastructure plan, which includes $21.9 billion over 11 years to support green infrastructure and reduce commuter times, including targeted investments by the new Canada Infrastructure Bank. With the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change, the Government and its provincial, territorial and Indigenous partners laid out a plan to create good, well-paying jobs and leave a cleaner, more prosperous economy for generations to come.
By pricing carbon pollution, the Government signalled to Canadians — and the world — our commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and deliver cleaner air, while also announcing our intention to accelerate the replacement of coal-generated electricity by 2030. In total, at least $5 billion will be available over the next 11 years for green infrastructure projects, with an additional $2.8 billion being invested through a series of green and smart energy programs, including better infrastructure for electric cars.
Finally, a topic of constant discussion in the Vancouver Quadra area has been home prices. In response, the budget is giving $40 million to Statistics Canada to develop and implement a Housing Statistics Framework. This Framework will be a nationwide database of all properties in Canada and would provide up-to-date information on purchases and sales, including the degree of foreign ownership, and information about demographics and financing, with the first initial data expected to be released by Statistics Canada this year.
Overall, the clean, smart, green theme of this budget holds plenty of promising new initiatives that pave the way for a better future in both Vancouver Quadra and Canada.