Vancouver Tax Hike: They Get What You Pay For

Author: Kris Sims 2019/12/10

By Kris Sims, B.C. Director, Canadian Taxpayers Federation

Vancouver homeowners are facing  a 9.3 percent tax hike if city hall and the Metro Vancouver Board get their way. That’s about $347 extra per year added to the tax load of homeowners in Vancouver.

Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart is telling the media the huge tax hike is needed to cover the bare basics at city hall, and without it, they might have to cut funding to things such as police services.

It’s strange that the mayor can’t find any cash and he feels the need to consider cutting core services to make ends meet, because the budget documents tell a different tale.

Total spending at Vancouver City Hall has gone up 32 per cent in five years.

Let’s look at what they are spending money on and what they are prioritizing.

Politicians jacked up spending on public art. They spent $1.4 million in 2015 and the tab went up to $3.8 million in 2019. That a 171 per cent increase in four years.

They spent $1.6 million of taxpayers’ money on communications in 2015 and it’s slated to go up to $2.9 million in 2020. That’s an 81 per cent increase between 2015 and 2020. Remember, under previous Vancouver mayor Sam Sullivan, the city had six communications workers with a budget of about $600,000 per year.

By comparison, the budget for policing in Vancouver has increased by 24 per cent between 2015 and 2020, while the spending on garbage collection has dropped by 10 per cent between 2015 and 2019.

Got potholes on your commute to work? The street repair budget at Vancouver city hall has increased by 13 per cent between 2015 and 2019.

Public art gets a 171 per cent increase, while fixing your street has increased by 13 per cent. These are the growing priorities at Vancouver City Hall.

Why would the mayor muse about cutting core services when these are the budgeting priorities of city council, posted online for all taxpayers to see?

If Vancouver taxpayers are rocking back and forth on whether this latest $347 per home tax hike is essential, they might want to weigh the question with a friend while they play on the $30,000 teeter-totter public art piece on East 51st Avenue that taxpayers paid for in 2018.

Why should taxpayers swallow this cupboard-is-bare line when they can see for themselves that politicians are spending money on things such as that huge $100,000 wood-and-neon public art sign they put up in False Creek in 2017 that reads “Should I Be Worried?”

You know, that sign might have a point. Taxpayers and homeowners should be certainly be worried when their elected representatives tell them with a straight face that they need to accept a 9.3 per cent tax hike because there is no where else to find money or save money.

Vancouver city hall needs to do better, and taxpayers need to hold them accountable.

Kris Sims is the B.C. Director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.