7% property tax hike approved by Vancouver city council
VANCOUVER -- Vancouver city council has approved its 2020 budget.
The financial plan includes funding for additional police officers and firefighters, but comes with a seven per cent property tax hike.
"I'm satisfied with that,” said Coun. Adriane Carr.
“I think we've done our due diligence in listening to people's concerns about the money, yet held onto the resources we need to infrastructure needs, housing, climate, etc,” she added.
City councillors approved the $1.6 billion operating budget and $502 million capital budget Tuesday night.
"I'm in despair about the amount of money the city is spending,” said Coun. Colleen Hardwick.
The seven per cent property tax hike means median overall residential property owners will pay roughly $130 more per year, while businesses will pay $225.
"Seems kind of outrageous actually,” said homeowner Robert Link.
The increase is being allocated to three categories including 3.4 per cent to cover increases in fixed costs, funding required to maintain city services at present levels.
Another 1.7 per cent will be used to fill service gaps and address risks including the addition of more police officers and firefighters, improvements to the building permitting process, and addressing compliance-related items
Finally, 1.9 per cent will go towards investments to advance council’s priorities.
Those include initiatives such as more affordable and social housing, investments in arts and culture, addressing the climate emergency, and a new city-wide planning process.
"I hear from people all the time that feel that they are being pushed out for the city. They’re going to be forced to sell their homes or relocate, because they just can't afford to live here anymore,” Hardwick told CTV News.
A trickle down affect is also a concern for renters.
"I've had to downsize already to afford the rent that I can afford,” said Rick Oster, a Vancouver renter.
He described the city’s rental market as “hellish.”
"For me it's definitely at that level where how much I rent is the maximum I plan to rent. I don't really intend on spending more than that,” said Remy St-Cyr, who also rents in the city.
But some residents are in favour of the increase.
Sean Konrad owns a townhome in the Strathcona neighbourhood.
“It’s a good thing,” said Konrad.
"Schools and stuff in our neighbourhood, they definitely need a revenue injection to improve the quality of the facilities. Seven per cent is a pretty marginal increase on what I already pay."
He believes investments made by the city could actually increase the value of properties.
It’s the largest tax increase in the city in at least a decade, but is lower than what was originally proposed.
The draft budget released back in November had a 8.2 per cent property tax increase.
City staff made cuts to the city’s operations budget to reduce the impact on property owners and it's lowering staffing costs by delaying hiring for new positions.
Reductions are also being made discretionary costs such as training, travel and consulting fees.
The city’s snow reserve will be cut in half to $1 million as will the funding for the city’s portion of support for Oppenheimer Park, which will be $0.5 million next year.
The Vancouver Park Board budget of $136 million in expenditures, the Vancouver Public Library expenditure budget of $55 million and the $339 million Vancouver Police Board operating budget were also approved.