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Property taxes, utilities going up $185 in Coquitlam

Rate increase in 2023 operating budget to pay for five more RCMP officers, infrastructure sustainability.
Coquitlam city council.

Coquitlam homeowners will pay about $185 more in property taxes and utilities this year.

That means the owner of an “average” home — a combination of a condo, townhouse and single-family dwelling, valued at $1,044,700 — will get a bill in the mail this summer for about $3,834 for a range of new and expanded programs and services, including five more Mounties.

Here’s the breakdown for the increases:

  • property tax: $123
  • water (single family/multifamily): $25/$15
  • sewer: $23
  • garbage: $14

Tonight (Monday), city council gave first, second and third bylaw readings to the 2023 operating budget, with Coun. Dennis Marsden opposing and Coun. Brent Asmundson absent for the vote.

Council is expected to give fourth and final bylaw reading at its next meeting on Feb. 27.

In his speech, Mayor Richard Stewart said council realizes taxpayers’ pinch with the current cost of living “and, for some people, it’s causing real hardship.”

But, he said, those pressures are also being felt by the municipality, which — on the heels of the pandemic — is struggling with higher inflation rates, as well as supply chain issues and a tight labour market.

Still, “no matter what is happening around us, we can’t set aside our obligation to provide the many services our community — our residents — relies on while also continuing to plan and prepare for the future.

“At all times, cities have to keep in mind not only today’s residents, but future generations as well,” the mayor said.

Besides the five new police officers, the $398-million financial plan also includes money for, among other things:

  • extreme weather response
  • transition for city staff to a hybrid workplace
  • a fire prevention officer
  • a business growth manager
  • a digital strategy manager

Stewart said Coquitlam sits “in the middle of the pack” among Metro Vancouver municipalities for property tax and utility hikes.

However, city staff warn, Coquitlam homeowners should brace for more hikes: about six per cent annually from 2024 to ’27.

One of the pressure points in this year’s budget is infrastructure sustainability to replace aging buildings and roads.

In response, council created a Sustainable Infrastructure and Asset Renewal Funding Strategy to fill the gaps; this year’s amount is $900,000 — the equivalent of a tenth of the tax increase.

Marsden, who was away for last month’s department head presentations, nixed the tax hike for asset replacement, saying the city could source that cash elsewhere and pressing for “more fulsome" council discussions on the topic.

But other councillors, including Stewart, said the city has to address the current infrastructure shortfalls, especially as the city booms.

“The roof can’t be patched anymore,” the mayor quipped.

Coun. Teri Towner also talked about Coquitlam’s growing demands that include issues that municipalities haven’t dealt with in the past such as climate change.

Meanwhile, city council unanimously gave first, second and third readings to authorize staff to apply to borrow up to $90 million from the Municipal Finance Authority to build the Northeast Community Centre and its park and plaza — money that will be recouped through developers’ revenues.