Municipal Development: Finding Political Incentives for Economic Investors

The intern is confronted with a classical question in political economy: what kind of political institutions can facilitate economic development? The City of Vancouver represents a fascinating case study in which three important players are locked up in a strategic relationship that can either spur or damage the prospects of further economic development of the city. Player A, City Government, seeks to extract more revenues in taxation in order to accommodate the demands to provide welfare and services. Player B, Commercial Property Owners, a significant source of city revenues, threaten to exit the market should municipal property taxes become too high. Meanwhile, Player C, Residential Property Owners, a significant source of political support, threaten not to re-elect the government if their municipal taxes increase or if the municipal services decline. Thus the position of players B and C seem antagonizing. How to resolve this dilemma: to meet fiscal demands in order to continue to provide city services at the existing level without further alienating economic investors? The intern will investigate whether an introduction of additional political incentives for commercial property owners in municipal governance structures (better enfranchisement or deliberation in policy processes) can create an alternative equilibrium between all the players in which resources are allocated with greater efficiency for all. The intern will work closely with Downtown Vancouver Business Improvement Association which represents commercial property owners.

Elena Feditchkina
Faculty Supervisor: 
Dr. Lisa Sundstrom
British Columbia