VANCOUVER -- Homeowners in B.C.'s most populous city will be paying higher property taxes in the coming year.

The City of Vancouver approved Tuesday an operating budget of $1.6 billion for 2021, which includes a five per cent property tax hike.

Council had been asked to consider hikes of three per cent, 4.3 per cent and five per cent. The lower increases would mean fewer city services and projects, and the lowest would mean layoffs, those behind the report suggested.

Councillors opted for the highest hike, which will account for a half per cent property tax change going from non-residential to residential buildings.

Here are some examples of how much more homeowners can expect to pay this year:

  • For a single-family home assessed at $1.6 million, taxes will go up by $146;
  • Owners of a condo assessed at $688,000 will pay $64 more; and
  • A commercial property assessed at $1 million will cost $166 more in taxes.

How much someone actually pays will be based on the assessed value of their property and those nearby, and these estimates are just property tax, and don't include other costs like utility fees and school taxes.

The latest budget is $19 million less than 2020's, or about one per cent lower.

Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart said earlier this year he'd been expecting $60 million from the federal government to help avoid going into debt due to expenses related to COVID-19. Instead, the city will be getting just $16 million from Ottawa.

Initial estimates suggested the only way Vancouver could stay out of debt without going into its reserves was with a 12 per cent property tax hike – an option that was not considered. Instead, the city says it's expecting to use $34 million of reserve funding to offset the budget shortfall.

Stewart noted he felt a seven per cent property tax increase last year was too high, and he did not want to go above five per cent this year.

Even with the increase, some projects and initiatives will be put off, and service impacts are expected.

“You can see where this property tax discussion comes down to. If we go too much lower than five per cent we’ll have to cut services which would include police, library, park board, engineering. So it’s a really tough balance, I think we have hit it," Stewart told CTV News Wendesday.

“I know not all councillors are happy with that, but in the middle of COVID I think we did the best we could do."