Vancouver City Council approved the $1.407 billion operating budget and $426.4 million capital budget for 2018, reinforcing the need to maintain and improve core services while at the same time making investments aligned with key priorities to support the future needs of a growing and changing city.
Highlights of the investments in the 2018 Budget
- A number of initiatives designed to bring more affordable housing to market sooner, including planning for growth, implementation of the Empty Homes Tax and short-term rental program, and additional staffing to reduce wait times for development permits including faster approvals for affordable housing projects
- Additional support for the homeless, including more access to winter shelters, warming centres, and temporary modular homes
- Additional funding to respond to the escalating opioid crisis
- Increased funding for childcare, almost double the commitment in 2017
- More police officers and civilian staff to help address increasing numbers of service calls
- Engineering utilities and transportation investments including for water, sewer, and solid waste, major and local road improvements, and improvements for snow response readiness
“This year’s budget maintains the essential services that residents and businesses rely on in their day-to-day lives, while also expanding investments to address our city’s changing needs,” said Mayor Gregor Robertson.
“We’re taking bold action to get more urgently needed affordable housing built, including adding more temporary modular, social, and rental housing throughout Vancouver and adding staff to reduce the time it takes to get permits for new housing and renovations. We’ve added resources to improve public safety and to continue to tackle the opioid and homelessness crises. We’ll maintain and upgrade core public infrastructure, like streets and public facilities, and build more vibrant communities through arts and culture grants and significantly expanding the number of childcare spaces we added last year. These investments will ensure that we improve Vancouver’s livability for all of our residents.”
Property tax increase
Council also approved an additional tax increase of 0.34 per cent above the 3.9 per cent proposed in the draft budget. The additional funding was earmarked for the following:
- Additional funding for implementation of the Council-approved Housing Vancouver strategy
- Support for priority actions regarding Historical Discrimination Against Chinese People in Vancouver, including the Chinatown UNESCO bid
- Additional social grants
- An added investment to help reduce development permit wait times
The total property tax increase for 2018 is 4.24 per cent, which for a median single family home (assessed at $1.823 million) amounts to an extra $94 per year and $32 per year for a median strata unit (assessed at $609,000).
Historically (2013-2017), Vancouver has had one of the lowest average property tax increases among Metro Vancouver municipalities at 2.3 per cent.
Priority investments based on public feedback
The City consulted with residents and businesses throughout the fall, and heard back about their most important issues and preferences for City spending. That input was used to identify the following priorities for investment in the 2018 budget year and beyond:
- Actions to address housing supply, affordability and critical social issues
- Improve service and maintain and upgrade streets, utilities, and facilities
- Continue to build vibrant communities
- Increase investments in public safety