The Capital Regional District, Capital Regional Hospital District and Capital Region Housing Corporation have approved the presentation of a combined financial plan totalling $611 million; an increase of 1.7 per cent over 2021’s operating and capital budgets.
The regional agencies – responsible for the development and improvement of over 200 municipal services, health care facilities and affordable housing – would together see $371 million go towards operations and $240 million towards infrastructure projects generating an estimated 1,394 jobs next year, according to a press release.
Several of those infrastructure projects will include 1,500 additional affordable dwellings built before 2025, bringing the region’s total affordable dwelling portfolio to 3,500 that year. The affordable housing focus of the CRD’s capital budget stems from the region’s population increase of 15 per cent since 2011. Regional building permits throughout 2021 are expected to surpass $2 billion by the end of the year.
Other focuses of the $371 million operation budget include the region’s parks and climate initiatives. The provisional plan will allow the region to purchase previously unattainable land for use as parks, which have seen their annual usage increase 20 to 25 per cent since 2019, according to the release. Strategies towards the implementation of the region’s climate emergency declaration include reducing emissions, accelerating energy efficiency in the corporate fleet and CRD infrastructure, protecting ecosystem health, and minimizing waste generation, which would require an additional $900,000 to the final budget if approved in March.
As for the capital budget for infrastructure additions and improvements, sums are earmarked for the improvement of wastewater facilities (including Magic Lakes Estate Wastewater System Infrastructure Replacement Project on North Pender Island, Core Area Wastewater Treatment System and Saanich Peninsula Treatment Plant), the retrofit of Hartland Renewable Natural Gas Initiative to sell renewable natural gas, the expansion of regional trails (including the E&N Rail Trail and the Mayne Island Regional Trail) and the renewal of drinking water infrastructure.
“Our region has seen a huge level of growth over the last few years and has shown remarkable resilience,” said CRD board chair Colin Plant. “I’m proud of the work we are doing to manage the crucial services and infrastructure we provide, to deliver drinking water, wastewater treatment, waste management, housing, regional parks, and other services, all while keeping the overall impact to taxpayers below inflation.”
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