The City of Vancouver needs clear guidelines for the use of the $2.5 billion Property Endowment Fund, says COPE council candidate Ellen Woodsworth.
The City’s 2007 Financial Statements say that the land assets of the Property Endowment Fund are worth $2.5 billion.
"The controversy over the $100 million loan to Millennium for completion of the Olympic Village raises serious questions about how decisions are made regarding use of the Property Fund," said Woodsworth. "The public wants to be assured that decisions around this Fund are open and transparent, and are determined by clearly defined guidelines."
COPE wants Vancouver City Council to initiate a public process that could include an independent commissioner, or panel, to develop guidelines and policies around the use of the Fund. The process would involve thorough consultation with the public, with the financial community, with academics and with community organizations in developing guidelines.
"At present there is an impression that the Property Fund can be used in a discretionary manner," said Woodsworth. "And the lack of transparency is seriously eroding public confidence in how council functions."
The City has a tremendous asset in the Property Endowment Fund that could be applied to creative uses such as protecting affordable housing, or leveraging funds so that community groups, non-profits and renters groups can build or buy long-term housing.
"Homelessness and affordability are huge issues in Vancouver. We should be thinking of using the tremendous asset represented in the Property Endowment Fund for creative uses such as protecting affordable housing, or leveraging funds so that community groups, non-profits and renters groups can build or buy long-term housing.