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City Council approved the development of a new Vancouver Entrepreneur Fund, an arms-length venture capital fund that will raise private investment to support emerging start-up companies in Vancouver. The Fund will give the city’s tech sector in particular an added boost as it competes globally for talent and investment.

“We need to be fostering a competitive tech sector in Vancouver, one with better access to capital so our companies can grow and stay local,” said Mayor Gregor Robertson. “The Vancouver Entrepreneur Fund is based directly on the expert input we received from dozens of local companies and investors, which is that there is a lack of capital available for small and mid-size companies who want to expand. This Fund will help address that gap.

“My vision for Vancouver’s economic success includes local companies growing and expanding right here in our city. With the Vancouver Entrepreneur Fund, we’re improving the conditions for the success of local businesses right here in Vancouver.”

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The City of Vancouver moved closer today to implementing food scraps collection for apartments and condos in Vancouver, as staff outlined at Council the strategy to comply with the Metro Vancouver ban on organic waste going to the landfill in 2015.

Vancouver’s Green Bin program already serves more than 100,000 single family and duplex homes, as well as 1,800 multi-unit buildings in the city that were already receiving City garbage pick-up. In the first full year of Green bin collection, the amount of garbage collected dropped by 40% as food waste was diverted to composting.

“Our Green Bin program is diverting food scraps from the landfill, and moving us closer to our Greenest City goals,” said Mayor Gregor Robertson. “We increasingly hear from people who live in apartments and condos that they want to have their food scraps collected. The City is taking further steps to help make that happen, and will be working with private waste collectors to expand service to all buildings in advance of the 2015 ban.”

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Residents along Vancouver’s Arbutus Corridor are receiving letters from Mayor Gregor Robertson this week regarding CPR’s stated intention to reactivate cargo trains through their neighbourhoods. The Mayor re-states his firm opposition to cargo trains on the route, provides background on the history of conversations between the CPR and the City of Vancouver, and indicates that the City is prepared to pay fair market value for land.

“As Mayor, I strongly believe that the Arbutus Corridor should remain as it is today – an enjoyable route for people to walk, run and bike along, as well as a home to the many community gardens that contribute to our neighbourhood,” writes Mayor Robertson. “We do not believe there is any business case for CPR to reactivate trains along the Corridor.”

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The City of Vancouver issued a record $1.12 billion in building permits during the first six months of 2014, the highest amount since pre-recession levels.

This is the third year in a row that construction has topped the billion-dollar figure for the first half of the year. Building permit values have increased 6.7 per cent in the first six months of 2014 over the same period last year, continuing a trend in high value construction.

“It’s exciting to see Vancouver’s economy growing at a strong pace,” said Mayor Gregor Robertson. “Low taxes, a highly-skilled work force and reduced red tape at City Hall are helping us achieve the highest levels in building permit values since before the recession, including the construction of significant new rental housing. Vancouver’s economic action strategy is working to create thousands of new jobs, make our city more competitive for investment, and build a forward-looking foundation for sustainable growth.”

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The City approved the creation of a new Affordable Housing Agency last night, an arms-length organization based on best practices in other cities to enable the creation of new low and modest income housing in Vancouver.

The Vancouver Affordable Housing Agency (VAHA) will also collect available data on issues such as vacant homes, and provide information on ways to limit investor speculation and unnecessary vacancies in Vancouver’s housing market.

“The Vancouver Affordable Housing Agency will be a key tool in the City’s efforts to create new affordable housing that meets the needs of local residents,” said Mayor Gregor Robertson. “As well, by designating it as a research hub to monitor issues such as vacant homes and excessive investor speculation, the VAHA will contribute to an informed, fact-based discussion of Vancouver’s housing market.”

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A new grant program supporting critical upgrades to preserve and protect buildings owned by Chinese Family Clan and Benevolent Societies has been approved by Vancouver City Council.

The Chinese Society Buildings Matching Grant Program will provide matching grants for maintenance and upgrades to buildings owned by the societies. Heritage buildings and those with affordable and social housing units will get priority consideration.

“This grant program recognizes the importance of maintaining these buildings as cultural anchors in our city, and shows how we can use new development to support and strengthen local heritage,” said Mayor Gregor Robertson. “The society buildings play a key role in preserving Chinatown’s unique heritage and identity, providing affordable housing, and contributing to the revitalization of Chinatown and the Downtown Eastside.”

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