Mayoral candidates unleash economic plans

Anton criticizes Vision green-heavy initiatives

Mayor Gregor Robertson wants to provide tax incentive grants for major employers looking to build new offices in Vancouver.

NPA mayoral candidate Suzanne Anton wants to create an investment and trade authority and an Asia-Pacific council to attract business in the city.

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The two main contenders for the mayor's chair released their economic platforms Tuesday as part of their respective election campaigns, with both acknowledging the need to look to other countries for investment. "As the world economy hopefully moves into recovery, Vision Vancouver is going to continue to push hard and make sure Vancouver maintains and really grows our economic picture on the world stage," Robertson told a crowd of business supporters at the Fairmont Pacific Rim hotel.

Robertson said the Vancouver Economic Development Commission-driven economic plan that went before council in September will steer the city's economic strategy over the coming years. The plan includes an expedited review of the city's regulatory framework on job spaces and taxes and will examine business slowdown affected by red tape. The creation of a so-called green and smart enterprise zone focused on clean technology and environmentally friendly buildings are central to the plan.

"These measures are intended to reduce red tape, to catalyze innovation and to encourage and better prepare our city for increased trade with new global markets-a real focus, in particular, on China, Asia and South America," he said, adding that he promises to host an "investment forum" next year, if reelected Nov. 19.

Anton released her economic platform via email, which was in stark contrast to Robertson's fundraising luncheon hosted by Ian Gillespie of Westbank Projects Corp. Developers such as Terry Hui, the head of Concord Pacific Developments and major donor to Vision Vancouver in previous elections, and architect Gregory Henriquez attended the Oct. 25 event.

Highlights of Anton's plan, some of which were previously released, include:

. Hiring a "red tape commissioner" to cut red tape at city hall to speed up "jobkilling" licence and permit delays.

. Hiring an independent "small business liaison officer" to identify problems and opportunities for small business growth.

. Extend the policy to shift some of the business tax to residential taxpayers beyond its current 2012 expiry date.

. Opposing the "job-killing" container tax proposed by TransLink.

. Return annual municipal budget surpluses to taxpayers.

Anton criticized the Vision-led green plan which calls for the creation of socalled green jobs in Vancouver. Green initiatives are important, Anton said, but the NPA's economic plan will focus on 100 per cent of the economy. "Our NPA team recognizes that a new mine in the B.C. Interior or a shipbuilding contract on the North Shore have positive impacts on our city's prosperity," she said in her email release. "I will be a mayor for these industries, too."

mhowell@vancourier.com

Twitter: @Howellings

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