Vancouver approves property tax increase for opioid crisis response

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Vancouver City Council has passed its budget for next year and it will include a property tax increase specifically to fund response to the opioid overdose crisis.

The 0.5 increase for a contingency fund for first responders will tack on about $4 for strata owners and $11 for those who own houses.

Some councillors, including the NPA’s Melissa De Genova, feel devoting proceeds of a new property tax increase essentially allows the provincial government to download costs to the city.

“If councillors do vote for the 0.5 per cent instead of going together with the province and the federal government on this, we’ll be sending the message that we’ll just pick up the tab every time here and I’m concerned that we won’t get those extra ambulances, those 25 that we need every day.”

All agreed the province should be doing more, including Mayor Gregor Robertson.

“We’ve got to see more support from the BC Government for paramedics and make sure we’re working upstream to deal with this crisis,” says Robertson.

“Those who are facing severe addictions and in combination with mental illness and homelessness, I’m mean we have a perfect storm right now that’s created this crisis and it goes right back to the BC Government and inadequate funding for healthcare and for enough affordable housing to address homelessness. Those two pieces are so essential.”

In the absence of adequate provincial funding, Vision Councillor Andrea Reimer says it’s their moral responsibility to act.

The budget includes an amendment to pressure the provincial and federal governments to step up as well.

Property taxes will go up 3.9 per cent total.

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