Vancouver council approves budget, 10.7% property tax hike

Vancouver city council has voted in favour of a nearly-$2 billion operating budget that will see a property tax increase of 10.7 per cent.

City council voted on Tuesday night to adopt the $1.97 billion budget. Earlier in the day, Mayor Ken Sim indicated that it would include a double-digit tax hike.

“We’ve had a significant under-investment in core services. We’re running a $500 million per year capital deficit so I would definitely say that Vancouver is at a crossroads right now,” he said during Tuesday’s meeting.

Read More: Vancouver property tax increase could be 10.7%

Some of the new money — around $8 million — will go toward public safety, particularly Sim’s campaign promise to hire 100 new Vancouver police officers along with 100 mental health nurses. There are also plans to revitalize Chinatown, which is also a key promise for the new mayor.

According to a staff presentation, 29 per cent of the city’s operating budget will be spent on police and fire services, while another 22 per cent will go toward engineering and utility.

The budget increase, however, is not sitting well with everyone. Coun. Christine Boyle was the lone member to vote against the amended budget and worries about what certain cuts will do.

“I’m disappointed that we’re funding important anti-racism work by making cuts elsewhere in arts, culture and community services without knowing the impact of those cuts,” she said.

The voting results from Vancouver city council's vote on the city's budget

Coun. Sarah Kirby-Yung, who moved a motion for the amended budget, said that Vancouver is not in a unique situation when it comes to running a heftier budget in 2023.

“We do not take this lightly. It is unprecedented and Vancouver is not alone. It’s not just Vancouver that’s seeing this. It’s municipalities around the Lower Mainland and in B.C.,” she said.

‘Disheartening’: Greater Vancouver Board of Trade reacts 

In a news release from the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade (GVBOT), President and CEO Bridgitte Anderson says it is difficult timing for the tax increase to come.

“It is disheartening to see the City of Vancouver pass a budget with a 10.7 per cent property tax increase, just one week after their initial estimate of 9.7 per cent. This increase comes at a time when many small and medium-sized businesses are struggling with increased costs, supply chain issues and labour challenges,” Anderson said.

“This increase will result in higher prices for Vancouver residents who choose to support local, at a time when foot traffic remains below pre-pandemic levels and customers continue to feel the impact of inflation on their wallets.”

Although Anderson notes that changes are needed to help make improvements, she says more still needs to be done.

“Vancouver needs to make entrepreneurship easier and more attractive, rather than increasing what is already a disproportionate tax burden shouldered by businesses. Increases of this size are unsustainable for small and medium-sized businesses going forward. We need the city, and all levels of government, to urgently address barriers like permitting and licensing delays, and red tape, and find ways to reduce costs for businesses, to ensure they can continue to provide the jobs and services that people in our community depend on,” Anderson said.

-With files from Emily Marsten

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