If you live in West Vancouver, you’ve probably noticed the rise in property taxes over the past three years. This article explores the impact of the increase on residents, the city’s finances, and BC Ferries. But why are property taxes increasing? What can you do to make them go away? Read on for some suggestions on how to reduce property taxes. In the meantime, you might also want to look into the new BC Ferries rates.
Increases in West Vancouver property taxes in the last three years
There have been several increases in West Vancouver property taxes in recent years. The city has also opted to freeze its school taxes. Although the freeze expires in 2022, it still allows for a maximum increase of 1.5 percent a year. In fact, over fifty per cent of Vancouver households rent. The increases have been a source of frustration for renters. Luckily, there are ways to fight back.
A portion of the increase is in the operational budget. The district’s 2021 operating budget was based on a conservative estimate due to the unknown pandemic, but the 2022 operating budget was based on what services would be expected to be available in 2022. In addition to building new buildings to accommodate the increase in demand, the District has instituted new ways of delivering services during an emergency.
Another factor contributing to the increase is the fact that Vancouver has the lowest property tax rate in North America. Currently, the rate is 2.56 cents per thousand of assessed value. That’s a 0.26 percent increase, which is still lower than most cities in the rest of North America. But that didn’t mean that property tax rates in Vancouver were always this low. The city is committed to ensuring that the rate is low for residents of the region.
Meanwhile, in the last three years, a number of other factors have contributed to increases in West Vancouver property taxes. One of the most significant is the lack of affordable housing. The city is facing a housing crisis that local leaders are grappling with. During the last three years, the city’s Official Community Plan was updated, which called for the expansion of a “missing middle,” or housing types that don’t fit the traditional definition of a single-family home.
Meanwhile, the lack of housing affordability in British Columbia is not only affecting the wealthiest residents of the province but also costing renters and the middle class. Even the province’s new vacancy tax only affects a fraction of the residents of the province, making it difficult to reduce prices. As a result, the elected leaders in charge will have to make tough choices on housing affordability and limit capital gains tax exemptions.
Impact on residents
Since 2016, West Vancouver has been buckling under the weight of new taxes and regulations. The city’s housing market was bounded by unsustainable growth and is now unaffordable for many people. Prices in West Vancouver are down 17 percent from their peak in 2016. The city is Canada‘s most expensive neighbourhood, but home sales have been sluggish for months. Benchmark prices in March fell 8.5 percent from their record high last June. Federal mortgage lending was tightened, making it harder for foreign buyers to obtain a mortgage.
The City of West Vancouver’s finance department has crunched the numbers and has come up with a new property tax on homes over $3 million. In total, this means an increase in school taxes for about seven thousand homeowners in West Vancouver. Since the property tax is based on assessed value, it will be 0.2 per cent for homes worth $3 million and four million dollars for homes worth more than $3 million. The city estimates that this extra tax will generate another $49.9 million in revenue for the city.
The city’s school district is working to provide “work force” housing for people who work in the area and have household incomes between $50 and $125,000. In fact, the school district has incurred an extra $53 million in school tax over the past two years. While the new school tax does not yet have a significant effect on residents’ pockets, Aspinall is confident that the extra tax will have a positive impact on the city’s finances.
While increasing the rate of the land portion of the property tax is welcome news, it is not enough to ensure affordability for all West Vancouver residents. The province introduced an additional provincial school tax last year, and municipalities should be given the authority to follow suit. If they can’t do so, the EHT should be repealed and West Vancouver property taxes will go up. The city should also consider expanding the tax exemptions.
Impact on city’s finances
The property tax hike in West Vancouver is an effort by councillors to balance the budget, while ensuring affordability for residents. A typical condo with an assessed value of $740,000 would see a property tax increase of $89 next year. The cost of water, sewage, and waste disposal would increase by an additional $143 per month. Renters would see a total increase of $561 next year. Renters renting a $2600 apartment would see an increase of $811 per year.
The new council has outlined priorities for the upcoming budget. The new council hopes to improve financial efficiencies and reduce traffic gridlock. In his campaign, councillor Kerry Morris has been a vocal critic of the previous council and said that the tax hike was a result of frivolous spending. She has dismissed the creation of bike lanes and the Lonsdale energy system as unimportant. She added that the increase in property tax is mainly felt by single-family home owners and that they will have to pay more for their homes. The new council also promised to do a financial audit and reduce the tax hike.
The new property tax in West Vancouver is a response to a tepid housing market. The city has been buckling under new taxes and regulations since 2016. A housing bubble created a situation whereby property prices became unaffordable. As a result, prices in West Vancouver have fallen nearly 17 percent since their peak in 2016. As a result, the city’s housing market has suffered, with home sales declining to their lowest levels since the financial crisis. In March, benchmark prices fell by an annual 8.5%, the lowest since June 2016. Also, tightened lending practices made it harder for foreign buyers to get mortgages.
The increase in the property tax rate in West Vancouver has a significant impact on the city’s finances. Most homeowners will see a higher municipal tax bill after accounting for other government services. Vancouver’s municipal portion of property taxes goes to schools, while TransLink and Metro Vancouver each get about 12 per cent of the total revenue. These numbers are not representative of the full picture of the city’s finances.
Impact on BC Ferries
The new user-pay model of BC Ferries is a blow to coastal communities. The burden is unevenly distributed across the province’s population, but the area serviced by the BC Ferries accounts for 36 per cent of provincial revenue and benefits from six per cent of provincial capital spending. The fare policy fails the test of fiscal fairness, and the coalition of coastal communities opposes it. The upcoming tax increase is the most significant step towards ensuring that local governments understand the consequences of the changes.
The new rules will result in a one-time payment of $750,000 in property taxes by BC Ferries. The government can now introduce legislation to change the assessment rules. The new assessment methods will affect other properties that have similar designations. The new rules are not a full victory for municipalities, as many will lose thousands of dollars. In the meantime, homeowners will face a property tax hike. However, the new rules will help municipalities recoup some of the money they lost from the previous assessment.
BC Ferries released its year-end results today. Its consolidated net earnings were $52.2 million, down significantly from the year before. In fiscal year 2020, BC Ferries carried 13.1 million passengers and six million vehicles, a 24 percent decrease from the previous year. Despite the recent decrease in revenue, the company remained on track with its core lifeline function. However, the global pandemic is affecting the company’s operations.
The government is recognizing that the BC Ferries are experiencing service level changes due to COVID-19 pandemic, which has impacted their service levels. Fortunately, the government is recognizing $268 million of the $308 million in Safe Restart Funding as well. The government is encouraging businesses to take advantage of the Safe Restart program and make the transition to full electric operation. The provinces are supporting BC Ferries and the company will remain profitable in the future.
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.