The new mayor of Vancouver and 10 members of city council have approved the $1.5 billion operating budget for 2019, along with $366 million capital budget for upcoming projects.
Included in the above first figure is $27.8 million slotted for investments in key areas such as increasing housing supply and affordability; maintaining and improving service levels; improving public safety; and building public spaces supporting arts, culture and the environment.
“I am very pleased that this new council was able to come together to approve a budget for 2019, which gives staff the mandate to proceed with action on so many important priorities in our city,” said Mayor Kennedy Stewart.
“With limited sources of revenue, it’s a real challenge for the City to find ways to address all of the issues that are important to our residents. Over the past several weeks we’ve listened to feedback and made adjustments in this approved budget which reflect what we heard. Now we can all look ahead to 2019 and getting to work building affordable housing, reducing homelessness, tackling the opioid crisis, and supporting small businesses.”
A number of amendments to the draft budget proposed by councillors have also gone through. Revenue from the Empty Homes Tax will be used to help reduce the cost of permitting, licensing and planning for residents wishing to create secondary or basement suites. There will be an increase in the number of public recycling stations by 50 per cent through reallocation of Solid Waste Utility funds. Funding for arts and culture grants are going to be doubled, from one to two per cent. And more.
In addition, home owners can expect a property tax increase of 4.5 per cent. Of that, 1 per cent is set aside for infrastructure renewal, 1.7 to cover costs associated with the new provincial government Employer Health Tax and 1.8 to compensate inflationary and wage costs of existing services.