Property owners in Coquitlam will pay about $126 more on their municipal bills next July for taxes and utilities.
On Monday (Dec. 6), city council gave three bylaw readings to its last budget before the October 2022 civic election by increasing the following:
- Property taxes by $74 (or 3.43 per cent)
- Water rates by $24/$14 (or four per cent)
- Sewer and drainage rates by $22 (or four per cent)
- Solid waste rates by $10 (or three per cent)
That means the “average” home of $998,700 — a combination of apartments, townhouses and single-family dwellings — will pay about $3,666 to the city next year.
The proposed financial plan, which is set to be adopted on Monday (Dec. 13), comes after city staff warned council this fall about projected 5.1 per cent annual jumps over the next decade to meet demand for the growing population.
The tax and rate hikes also come after an Ipsos survey found most respondents wanted to keep the existing levels of city services and programs. As a result, the draft 2022 budget returns to pre-pandemic operations.
Of the 3.43 per cent property tax increase, 0.85 per cent accounts for the new RCMP union contract that Mounties across Canada voted on this summer.
“The RCMP wage settlements negotiated by the federal government were much higher than expected and will have a major impact on our operating budget, adding almost one per cent to the 2022 tax increase,” Mayor Richard Stewart read in his 34-minute statement at the Dec. 6 council meeting.
Other tax drivers include the impact of inflation on city expenditures, contractual obligations, and grants for cultural organizations such as the Coquitlam Public Library, Place des Arts, Coquitlam Heritage and the Evergreen Cultural Centre that equal a tax lift of 0.77 per cent.
For its draft 2022–26 capital plan, which works out to $558 million, the city has two major priorities on its books: the Spani Pool Renewal, in Central Coquitlam, and the Northeast Community Centre, on Burke Mountain — the latter of which the construction will be paid by using development revenues plus a contribution from the developer Wesbild, as well as through internal debt borrowing.
Also underway in the capital program is the Cedar Drive expansion, the Southwest Austin Heights sewer upgrades and other sewer and drainage projects for a combined total of $9.4 million. These are also set to be funded through internal borrowing, of which a debt management policy was OK’d on Monday night.
As for shifting part of the tax burden from business to residential — a past practice in the City of Coquitlam — Gorana Cabral, the city’s financial planning manager, told the Tri-City News that it’s no longer in use.
Meanwhile, Coquitlam city council plans to focus on four themes to align with the 2022 Business Plan, which was also green-lighted on Monday:
- Pandemic recovery
- Sustainability, growth and livability
- Diversity, equity and inclusion
For the latter, Stewart said that social movements such as Black Lives Matter, #MeToo and Anti-Asian Hate — plus the discoveries this year at past residential schools for Indigenous children — “have all highlighted and further brought to light the disparities that exist in modern Canadian society.”