The District of West Vancouver has passed a budget that will see an increase in the West Vancouver Property Tax. How will this affect residents? And how can we pay our property tax? Let’s take a look at some of the options. Continue reading to learn more about the impact of the new tax on West Vancouver residents.
District of West Vancouver budget
The District of West Vancouver is seeking public input on its upcoming budget. While it will likely increase the operating budget by 1.48%, this is below historical inflation rates and a necessary minimum increase to maintain and improve services. This amount of increase translates to an increase of $105 for a strata property and $229 for a single-family detached home.
The West Vancouver budget also proposes a 1% increase in the Asset Levy and a 1% increase in the Environmental Levy. These increases will result in an overall tax hike of between 3.79% and 7.7% for a home valued at $3.7 million. However, the increase will not be as high as the initial proposal, which was 4.48 per cent.
The District of West Vancouver is facing many challenges in the coming years. These include the ongoing recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, the impacts of climate change, and the deferred maintenance of infrastructure. In order to meet these challenges, the proposed FY2022 budget includes a minimum of $124 million in general fund funds for operations and maintenance.
Opposition to the budget included a range of concerns. While many residents supported the budget, opposition came from residents who felt that they weren’t getting value for their taxes. They said that West Van should not hire more permanent staff, but hire consultants on a contract basis. Furthermore, they felt the budget was rushed.
The District of West Vancouver will consider public input as part of the review process of its upcoming budget. The process will be open to the public for comments or questions, and comments will be posted on the District of West Vancouver website.
Increase in property tax
The housing bubble in Vancouver has pushed up property values, making it impossible for many to afford the city’s housing. The resulting increase in property taxes has also contributed to the affordability of housing in the area. Ryan LLC, a company that offers software and tax services, has requested the information through B.C. Freedom of Information laws.
The District of West Vancouver has quoted an average assessed value of 4.48%, ignoring the approvals for utilities, which range from 9% to 5%. This increases the total property tax by about 5.2%, which is well above the 1% inflation rate. While the increase is not as high as in the past, it is still well above the rate of inflation. The city also excludes school taxes, which means that property tax hikes have topped inflation for the past several years.
The West Vancouver homeowners association is expressing concerns about the new tax, which it says will cost residents $50 million annually. The association also says many residents are on fixed incomes and are worried about the impact on their finances. As a result, the association is offering deferred taxes, which will be deducted from the value of the home upon sale or death.
The increase in property tax is a result of a city council mandate for a 5% annual increase. This means that a single-family home in West Vancouver worth $1.7 million will cost C$137 more in 2022. A condo or strata unit worth $711,000 would cost C$57 more, while a business property worth $1 million will cost an additional $247.
While the additional tax will only affect 200 to 350 houses each year, the extra tax is still a concern for city council as it weighs on the city’s budget. But Township of Langley Mayor Jack Froese says that residents get something back for the extra tax, although he says there is no clear accounting system.
Impact on residents
The City of West Vancouver has a reputation for tony neighbourhoods, but the city’s property taxes are challenging to say the least. Mayor Bruce Smith has been a champion of business, and is working hard to keep taxes low by encouraging mixed development and redevelopment of the city’s commercial base.
The city’s finance department crunched the numbers and found that, in the next two years, the school tax will increase by 4.29 per cent. The increase will affect approximately 7,100 residential properties, including 3,900 homes worth more than $4 million. The increase will mean an extra $7,680 in school taxes for homeowners. Last year, West Vancouver residents paid $47 million for school taxes. Staff are estimating that, this year, that figure will rise to $49.9 million.
In addition to increasing property taxes, the district is also raising the cost of operations, which will result in a greater tax base for the district. During the last two years, West Vancouver residents have already paid $53 million in extra school tax. However, the proposed budget for 2022 is expected to push up costs by 18.3 per cent over five years.
While British Columbia has a much wealthier population than it did a decade ago, the cost of living in the province has become prohibitive for many people, especially younger people and renters. This is in large part due to the province’s property tax system, which encourages speculative investment in residential property.
Ways to pay
There are a number of ways to pay your property tax in West Vancouver. You can pay by mail, use an ATM, or use mortgage payments to pay your taxes. You can also make your payment by bank, wire transfer, or in person at City Hall. If you prefer a different method, you can apply for a home owner grant.
The amount of tax you pay is calculated based on your property’s taxable assessed value. It is collected by your local taxing authority, which may be the municipality, an Indigenous community, or the tax surveyor in rural areas. The money you pay helps fund services for your community and the city. In some areas, such as West Vancouver, property tax payments are a fraction of the average house value.
Some municipalities raised taxes and fees significantly. Others lowered fees or kept them the same. For example, in Richmond, fees are on average lower than in Burnaby. The city of Whistler has slightly higher fees and taxes than other areas. In contrast, Bowen Island has flat rates since the last election.
In North Vancouver, the city council has called for lower taxes. They support affordable rental housing, and their one per cent tax rate is earmarked for building affordable community centres. However, the average house in North Vancouver City is still higher than the ones in Vancouver and Surrey. The average tax bill in North Vancouver City is also higher than the ones in other communities, and it’s only the median house in North Vancouver that has been reduced.
Impact on economy
The current Vancouver rent freeze expires in 2022, and the maximum increase is 1.5 per cent. The average renter in the city currently pays $2,000 per month, so a 1.5 per cent increase next year would add $360 to their housing costs. Renters in Vancouver account for nearly half of the city’s population, so the increase would have a significant impact.
Several cities have introduced targeted taxes, but these have not proven effective in calming speculation. The best policy solution for ending speculation is to build enough new homes to meet demand. The tax was imposed on higher-valued properties in 2019. So far, it has generated over $300 million in the past two years. The tax is estimated to raise at least $200 million in 2021.
The rise in British Columbia’s housing prices has priced many people out of the market. These prices have made it very difficult for young people and renters to afford homes. The low property taxes in British Columbia and a provincial homeowner grant have contributed to this phenomenon. In the short-term, the rising real estate prices in the province have provided a safe haven for real estate investors, who have made billions of dollars.
The added tax will impact the city’s finances and the decision-making of council. It also affects thousands of residents. The extra tax may affect the future of the city. The local control over the tax will prevent future governments from siphoning off the extra tax. Moreover, it will help the city maintain a competitive business climate, which is essential to attracting and retaining business.
The provincial government has already spent almost $1.8 billion on housing in the city. This money has gone toward building “work force” housing for people who live in the district with incomes between $50,000 and $125,000. Moreover, the province also provides hundreds of millions of dollars for social housing.
Among many other things, David A. Grantham is a contributing author to UmassExtension West Vancouver Blo. He is a renowned expert on real estate in BC.
Born in North Vancouver, Louisiana, Dr. Grantham grew up in Lower Lonsdale. He then went on to complete his business degree at the University British Columbia. As of this writing, Grantham has completed over 100 projects, including the development of a high rise building in Vancouver.
He is a husband, father, son, brother, and friend. He was a dedicated outdoorsman and enjoyed sports such as hunting, fishing, scuba diving, and snow skiing. His wife, Alison Grantham, and their two daughters survived him. He is survived by his wife Alison Martin Grantham and two daughters.