City Council approved the 2011 budget today, which keeps the overall property tax rate at 2.2% - among the lowest in Metro Vancouver – and protects key services like affordable housing, parks and libraries, and public safety.
“This budget reflects what we heard from the public over the last several weeks,” said Mayor Gregor Robertson. “We are in a difficult economic climate, and families expect us to keep the tax rate as low as possible. At the same time, people value their parks and libraries, which is why we’ve made sure to protect and invest in those areas.
“This has not been an easy process, but I believe this budget strikes the right balance.”
Following extensive input from the public, Council adjusted the tax rate by 0.2% to increase investment in a number of areas. These include:
- $100,000 for the Parks Board to avoid youth playing field fees;
- $200,000 for the Parks Board to ensure public washrooms remain open, cleaning services maintained, and shower services for the homeless expanded;
- $165,000 to the Vancouver Public Library to restore operating hours in five branches;
- $275,000 to support the City’s work to end street homelessness by 2015;
- $200,000 for the Vancouver Police Department’s Gang and Emergency Response Team.
“We heard clearly what people want their tax dollars invested in,” said the Mayor. “We’re not going to be cutting back vital services and we’re increasing the annual budgets for major departments like the police, libraries, and the parks board. At the same time, we’re keeping taxes as low as possible.”
The increased funding in the 2011 budget for parks and libraries supports other key priorities for City Council. These include:
- No cuts to affordable housing, homelessness, or environmental programs;
- A $5.7 million increase for the VPD;
- Full funding for arts and culture programs;
- Maintained funding for child care services.
Photo credit: Ernie Stelzer