It’s a fact. Single-family dwelling property owners in Vancouver are paying the highest property taxes amongst Canada’s major urban centres.
There are 2 reasons that may be responsible for this. Either the city is paying for services that are outside its mandate, or it is delivering its services and running its operations in a very inefficient way.
There is an argument that goes as far as saying that Vancouver’s municipal government has been expanding its mandate far beyond the core services and responsibilities of a typical municipal government.
It is allocating its budget on social programs for the homeless, affordable housing and healthcare initiatives vis-à-vis the opioid crisis. It can be argued that these areas of spending are the responsibilities of the provincial and federal government, but because of the void created, the local government has had to step in.
Municipal governments collect taxes from local property owners to fund core services such as the police, fire department, sewage and water infrastructure, garbage removal, local libraries, street cleaning, parks and recreation and snow removal.
In Vancouver’s case, with the growing emphasis on the non-core services, there is a huge strain on keeping the core services at an optimal level, and the only way to effectively fund both areas is to collect more revenue in the form of higher taxes.
Then there is the argument whether the services are being provided in an efficient manner. Is there wastage along the way? It should be noted that over the past decade, the municipal government’s staffing costs have grown by 21%, while Vancouver’s population has grown by only 10%.
An independent review into the practices of the municipal government’s efficiency and effectiveness in delivering its services and its spending priorities, would be a useful way in determining whether taxpayers’ dollars are getting treated fairly.
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