The council adds a new environmental tax.
West Vancouver residents and business owners can expect a 4.29% increase in their municipal taxes in 2022.
In a series of votes Monday night (February 14), council voted to approve a 1.79% increase to the district’s operating budget, a 1% tax to maintain and replace aging capital assets, and a new environmental tax of 1.5% explicitly dedicated to environmental programs.
For the owner of a single-family home with an average property assessment of $3.7 million for the district, this should result in an increase of $280 over last year’s municipal tax bill (without count levies for TransLink, Metro Vancouver, utility fees or school taxes, all of which are added to the bill but not directly within the jurisdiction of the council). For owners of a condo unit valued at West Vancouver’s $1.6 million average, district finance staff estimate a $123 increase over the 2021 bill for municipal taxes.
Each levy sparked a lively debate within the council and the votes were not unanimous.
The operating budget includes staffing for new council goals set out in their strategic plan late last year, but Couns. Both Marcus Wong and Sharon Thompson voted against the budget, arguing it should have been lower.
“I think it’s a little overzealous in the good-to-haves compared to what we have to have,” Thompson said.
Com. Bill Soprovich and Craig Cameron have sought to increase the tax on assets by an additional 0.5%, citing a shortfall of $4 million from the “optimal” level of funding needed to prevent the district from taking even more delay in its ability to maintain the operation of its infrastructure.
The majority of council, however, voted against the additional half percent. Mayor Mary-Ann Booth said the municipality has come a long way after years of infrastructure neglect and added that people are currently experiencing sticker shock of all kinds.
“The number one issue in the Lower Mainland right now is the cost of living. Everyone feels really rushed. And I know our residents have had increases in their equity but… Everything is going up, vehicles, food, utilities,” she said. “I think we have to be judicious.”
Com. Peter Lambur voted against the 1.5% asset levy, albeit for the opposite reason. He preferred a more aggressive levy of 2%.
New to the budget is the council’s 1.5% environmental levy which will be earmarked for climate change response, sustainability and the protection of the district’s natural assets.
Some of the uses suggested by staff included electric vehicle charging infrastructure and transitioning to an electric fleet for the district as well as coastal protection. The district is also considering hiring an environmental officer.
Initially, staff had recommended an environmental levy of just one percent, but the majority of council agreed to add an additional half percent. Soprovich cited massive storm damage over the past few months and warned that the future would only be worse.
“The fact is, a 1.5 (per cent) environmental tax is the right thing to do for climate change now, and it’s a little bolder than what we’ve seen in the past, but I think it’s the right thing to do. To do.”
Both Thompson and Lambur voted against the environmental tax.