Top parties look to entice Asian investors (Vancouver Sun, 26-Oct-2011): Vision Vancouver and NPA

A note for the archives. This article by civic reporter Jeff Lee appeared in the Vancouver Sun on 26-Oct-2011, just prior to the 2011 civic election.

[CityHallWatch note: See especially in bold – meeting hosted by Ian Gillespie of Westbank for Vision Vancouver to talk privately to developers. What promises did Vision’s Gregor Robertson make to the donors? What promises did the donors make to Vision Vancouver? With Gillespie hosting the event, what influence did he gain and how did he benefit in return during the ensuing years through his close connections with Vision Vancouver, until Vision was wiped out in the 2018 civic election?

Also, note that both parties were aggressively seeking Asian money. Did that in part sow the seeds and/or exacerbate Vancouver’s crisis of housing affordability and money laundering?]


Top parties look to entice Asian investors: Vision to launch tax incentive program for new businesses, while NPA pushes to reduce bureaucracy

Vancouver Sun (Jeff Lee) (26-Oct-2011)

From page A1 Vancouver’s two major political parties are looking across the Pacific to solve the city’s economic woes, pledging to entice investment from East Asia.

And both say red tape and high taxes affecting established Vancouver businesses must continue to be reduced if the city is to prosper.

The strategies were announced Tuesday by Vision Vancouver’s Gregor Robertson and the Non-Partisan Association’s Suzanne Anton, as part of their economic platforms for the Nov. 19 civic election.

Robertson is seeking a second term as mayor and Anton, a longtime councillor, is the NPA’S mayoral candidate.

Both candidates said they’ll focus on enticing investment from outside the city.

Anton said she would create an “Investment and Trade Authority” and an “Asia/ Pacific Council” to draw in foreign investors. Robertson said he would create a “Mayor’s Investment Forum” to attract investors globally to invest in local Vancouver entrepreneurs and companies.

The centrepiece of the Vision economic plan is a tax incentive program for new businesses that locate in Vancouver.

Modelled on “ tax increment equivalent grants” elsewhere in the world, Robertson said they would not cost city taxpayers because the grants are offset by growth in the tax base.

“They are used in many cities around the world for new business and development to encourage that investment,” he said. “ Basically, the new investment attracts new tax revenue and offsets the tax relief to whoever creates the jobs.”

He said there are no plans to offer tax incentives to established Vancouver businesses to keep them from moving out of the city.

Anton said her platform covers three inter-related issues of creating jobs in traditional sectors, collaborating with government to attract investment and reduce business-stifling bureaucracy, and supporting existing small businesses.

She proposes advisory groups called industry sector councils that would focus on growth in financial institutions, real estate and development, natural resources, transportation, digital technology and health care.

These councils would “develop collaborations, monitor trends and identify partnership opportunities in traditional job-creating industries,” she said.

She also wants to strengthen the tourism, film, television, music and cultural industries.

Besides the tax-incentive proposal, Vision’s economic plan includes reducing red tape, creating an atmosphere for business investment, and capitalizing on existing business growth strategies.

Robertson said his party’s plan is a robust advancement of the city’s general reliance on traditional business sectors. He pledged to “aggressively implement” the Vancouver Economic Commission’s strategy, which was unveiled by the city in September.

That strategy includes reviewing the city’s regulatory framework, promoting the city globally, and creating a “green and Smart Enterprise Zone” to help build emerging sectors in green building and clean technology.

Robertson unveiled his plan at a noon fundraiser organized by developer Ian Gillespie at his Fairmont Pacific Rim Hotel. The event was attended by many of the city’s influential developers, builders and architects, including Concord Pacific’s Terry Hui and architect Greg Henriquez.

After the announcement, the media were removed from the room so Robertson could meet with his donors.

Anton released her platform in a news release shortly before a Vancouver Board of Trade-sponsored debate between her and Robertson.


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Here’s an idea of where the two parties stand on a range of issues.




– Continue 1% property tax shift from businesses to residences until 2012.

– Tax incentive for new businesses bringing jobs (Tax Increment Equivalent Grants).


– Continue 1% property tax shift from businesses to residences beyond 2012.

– Oppose TransLink’s “job-killing” container tax.

– Return annual municipal budget surpluses to property taxpayers.




– Create a Mayor’s Investment Forum “to attract investors globally.”

– Create a new Tech Centre for local entrepreneurs and new companies.


– New “Investment & Trade Authority” and “Asia/ Pacific Council” to bring new investment to the city.

– Create “industry sector councils” in six economic areas.





– Reduce red tape.

– Speed up residential permits with a standard turnaround time.


– Establish “red tape commission” to “speed up slow, job-killing business license and permit approval process at City Hall.”



– Implement the city’s Vancouver Economic Commission investment strategy.

– Expand efforts to revitalize Chinatown, including attracting business and creating more affordable housing.

– Identify “sister” cities in other countries that can benefit Vancouver’s businesses.


– Build the Downtown Vancouver Streetcar system in partnership with provincial and federal governments.

– Improve immigration settlement services.

– Re-establish Metro Vancouver’s collective bargaining unit, bring in integrated business licensing.

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