Vancouver City Council approves 2020 Budget

Property tax increase set at 7 per cent

VANCOUVER City Council on Tuesday approved the City’s 2020 Budget and Five-Year Financial Plan, including a $1.6 billion operating budget and a $502 million capital budget for new projects in 2020.

Included was approval of $21 million of new investments in the 2020 operating budget to support this Council’s priorities:

· Deliver quality, core services that meet residents’ needs

· Address affordability and the housing crisis

· Protect and build our economy

· Increase focus on diversity and critical social issues.

“This budget reflects the priorities and choices of all Councillors and responds to the concerns we all heard from the public,” said Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart. “We’re making critical investments in core front-line services like fire and rescue, police, libraries, community centres, homelessness and housing, while reducing or delaying spending in non-priority areas.”

Council also approved a property tax increase of 7 per cent, which for the median overall residential property owner in Vancouver is equivalent to approximately $130 for the year or $11 per month, and $225 additional for 2020 for the median business property.

The approved property tax increase is comprised of:

· 3.4 per cent to cover increases in fixed costs – funding required to maintain City services at present levels e.g. estimated impacts of future collective agreements and increases in rent, insurance, etc.

· 1.7 per cent to fill service gaps and address risks – including the addition of more police officers and fire fighters, improvements to the building permitting process, and addressing compliance-related items (e.g. WorkSafe, health and safety).

· 1.9 per cent in investments to advance Council’s priorities – initiatives such as more affordable and social housing, investments in arts and culture, addressing the climate emergency, and a new city-wide planning process (the Vancouver Plan).

The approved property tax increase was reduced from the 8.2 per cent in the draft budget presented in early December, and was achieved with reductions across the City’s operations including:

  • Delayed hiring for new positions to reduce staffing costs
  • Reductions in discretionary costs such as training, travel and consulting fees
  • A reduced snow reserve from $2 million to $1 million
  • Reduced funding for the City’s portion of support for Oppenheimer Park (from $1 million to $0.5 million)
  • Reduction of the 2020 portion of the city-wide plan budget using carryover funding from 2019.

Also approved were 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.