The City of Vancouver today released its proposed 2015 Operating Budget of $1.223 billion and Capital Budget of $306 million, which outlines how tax dollars are invested across city departments, and the services that residents and businesses receive as well as a summary of all relevant funds and entities – the first time a consolidated comprehensive budget has been presented.
Highlights in this year’s budget include:
- $61.3 million in affordable housing, including the creation of 358 units of co-op rental and social housing in partnership with the Community Housing Land Trust Foundation;
- $38.4 million for transportation, including safety upgrades to high-traffic sidewalks, accessibility improvements to transit stops, and more than 20km of upgrades to major and local roads;
- $31.7 million for park, open spaces and recreation, for projects such as a new Southeast Vancouver Seniors’ Centre and a new synthetic turf field at Eric Hamber school;
- $28.5 million for Community Facilities, including a new Strathcona Library;
- The development of the Vancouver Affordable Housing Agency (VAHA) which is starting work to enable delivery of 500 affordable housing units, filling a commitment to deliver 2,500 affordable housing units on City and partner lands by 2021
Despite rising costs for existing services, the 2015 Budget includes a property tax increase of 2.4%, which is competitive with most other Canadian municipalities. Wages and benefits are the primary drivers of cost increases, particularly for public safety services, which are the largest components of the City’s operating budget. For 2015, the impact of those public safety wage and benefit increases above other employee bargaining units alone is approximately the equivalent of a 1% property tax increase. Absorbing this increase within a competitive tax environment has taken a focused effort by all areas of the City.
The 2015 Budget will enable us to continue to make significant progress in advancing City Council and community priorities: addressing housing and homelessness; cultivating and sustaining vibrant, creative, and safe communities; promoting economic development; advancing our Greenest City 2020 Action Plan; and delivering value for money.
Feature Image: City Hall via shutterstock