Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart proposes new climate levy to raise $100 million

Nov 25 2021, 1:08 am

The mayor of Vancouver is floating the idea of introducing what he calls a “progressive” levy to support the City of Vancouver’s Climate Emergency Action Plan (CEAP).

Kennedy Stewart states such a levy would go into effect in 2022, with the aim of raising $100 million over 10 years to fund the municipal government’s climate change initiatives.

Few details are available at the moment, but a levy, for example, could be implemented as an add-on to the amount of property tax paid.

Stewart did not provide any further details in today’s announcement, but he is expected to move the proposal details forward early next month when Vancouver City Council convenes to debate and make a decision on the municipal government’s 2022 budget.

The provincial school tax, TransLink Metro Vancouver Regional District, Municipal Finance Authority, and BC Assessment also receive a share of the property tax, separate from the portion of the property tax that goes to the City of Vancouver. These five other taxing authorities deem their add-ons to the property tax as levies.

“Last year, our Council unanimously approved a plan to respond to the climate emergency that would put Vancouver on track to reach net-zero emission by 2050,” said Stewart in a statement.

“That’s why I am announcing my proposal for a new progressive climate emergency action levy to ensure Vancouver’s Climate Emergency Action Plan will succeed by putting our money where our mouth is.”

He suggests this levy would provide a stable revenue source to fund the $500 million CEAP, which would help Vancouver reduce its greenhouse gases by 50% by 2030.

In November 2020, city council approved city staff’s CEAP, composed of 32 wide-ranging initiatives varying in scope, such as implementing more bus-only lanes, bike lanes, electric-battery vehicle charging stations, reducing reliance on fossil fuels for energy, and improving the energy efficiency of buildings.

CEAP also includes the controversial policy of implementing mobility pricing, such as road tolls, for the downtown Vancouver peninsula and Central Broadway Corridor. City staff have set aside $1.5 million to work with a contractor to identify options for implementation towards the middle of this decade. Preliminary estimates peg mobility pricing with a one-time installation and technology acquisition cost of about $250 million, with the system generating revenue of between $50 million and $80 million annually once operational.

Additionally, CEAP entailed another controversial plan to introduce mandatory parking permits to all residential streets starting in early 2022, which would also serve to raise revenue for the various climate action initiatives. The plan for parking permits was narrowly rejected by city council in early October 2021, with Stewart casting the deciding vote in opposition.

City council’s budget discussions next month will focus on city staff’s proposed $1.7 billion operating budget and spending measures for 2022, while also maintaining an average property tax increase of no more than 5% for the year. This also follows consecutive annual property tax increases in recent years.

Kenneth ChanKenneth Chan

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