Yesterday, the City of Vancouver passed a balanced, forward-looking budget that keeps taxes low – the lowest increase in five years – while investing in key Vancouver priorities like affordable housing.
“We’ve come through some challenging economic times in recent years, and had to make some tough choices together, but now Vancouver is in a much stronger budget position,” said Mayor Gregor Robertson. “This budget is forward-looking, balanced and responsible, with crucial investments in affordable housing, parks and recreation, public safety, and arts and cultural offerings – all with the lowest increase in property taxes in five years.”
The 2013 budget:
• Keeps taxes low – just a 2% increase, in line with inflation and the lowest increase in five years. That gives Vancouver the 3rd-lowest tax rates for homeowners among 18 Metro Vancouver municipalities.
• Sets a new standard for financial oversight: for the first time, this year’s budget contains detailed service metrics for each City department, tracking everything from garbage pick-ups to ice rink usage to fire response times.
• Commits $9.6 million for affordable housing.
• Invests $14.4 million for parks and open spaces, with improvements to playgrounds, sport courts, and Trillium field.
• Invests $2 million for a new VPD Community Safety Program, to prevent break-ins, speed up police response times, and improve neighbourhood safety.
• Invests $11.8 million to improve bike and pedestrian safety on major active transportation routes.
• Provides an additional $700,000 for Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services, with funding for the Urban Search and Rescue Team and additional firefighters.
Council also gave direction at today’s meeting to boost funding for arts and social grants by $300,000 with a commitment to future indexing, ensuring more financial stability and clarity for Vancouver’s nonprofits.
Direction was also given by Council to allocate up to $5 million of the 2012 budget surplus to the City’s childcare reserve, ensuring the City continues to create more affordable, quality daycare spaces across Vancouver.
“We also provided a major boost to our parks and recreation facilities by dedicating $3 million from our emerging priorities fund to support improved sport facilities, allowing the Park Board to leverage funding for major new field improvements, clubhouses, and public washrooms,” added the Mayor. “If you or a family member play soccer, football, ultimate frisbee, field hockey, or rugby in Vancouver– or even if you’re a fan – you know that this will be money well spent to support a healthier and more active city.”
The City of Vancouver began extensive public consultation on the draft budget in early October, and continued that engagement through meetings with Citizen Advisory Groups, an online survey, and 3-1-1 feedback. City Council also heard from speakers at a special public hearing on the budget on Tuesday, December 4th.
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