Saanich agrees to raise property tax revenues by 3.53 per cent

Saanich agrees to raise property tax revenues by 3.53 per cent

Business Wanted.

That is the message Coun. Colin Plant Saanich believes should send out — otherwise the community will face some difficult financial choices in the future.

“Saanich will eventually have to look at cutting services, if it does not grow its revenues because eventually people will reach a point where they may not be able to afford living here,” said Plant. He made those comments after Saanich Wednesday unanimously approved its 2017 budget.

It raises revenues from property taxes by 3.53 per cent. This figure means that the owners of average Saanich homes valued at $750,000 will pay an additional $86 in property taxes. “That is not likely going to break the metaphorical camel’s back, but it is adding pressure,” said Plant.

Saanich, he said, needs to do more to allow development and attract business because the current ratio between taxes from residential properties and businesses is unsustainable.

“Currently Saanich’s tax breakdown is 23 per cent business and 76 per cent residential,” he said. “We need to grow the former number. While Saanich is and will likely always be a residential municipality with commercial villages, I believe it needs to grow that 23 per cent [figure] by a few percentage points.”

Plant said he specifically wants to see more housing development in Saanich’s major centres and corridors. Plant also said he would like to see Saanich support more businesses in the information technology sector and attract more light manufacturing to its industrial areas.

Plant raised these issues after what he described was a “long, arduous and often painful [budget] process” that climaxed yesterday as council considered various options. Saanich residents heard earlier this month that council was trying to shave 1.5 per cent off a looming tax of 4.45 per cent, while reconciling requests for additional staffing.

Chief administrative officer Paul Thorkelsson had earlier told council Saanich confronts “significant capacity gaps…primarily as the result of fiscal restraint policy decisions since 2008.” While this approach has had positive financial effects, it has left Saanich in its “current state” defined by informal service reductions and increasing frustration from council and some members of the community about “time, cost and quality of municipal services.”

Saanich, Thorkelsson said in a later report, has the lowest per capita expense compared to similar municipalities across the province and ranks somewhere in the middle among muncipalities in the Capital Regional District (CRD), below Central Saanich, Sidney, Esquimalt, Oak and Victoria.

While Plant said he initially planned to vote against the budget, he reconsidered during the course of deliberations.

“I struggled with this decision and initially was going to vote against the proposed budget because I did not think we had worked hard enough and found the savings needed to reduce the lift,” he said in a Facebook page shortly after the budget.

Plant however also noted as a matter of transparency, that he was also in favour of “adding all the critical staffing requests that would have seen us land at the same amount had my suggestions gone through.”

Council, he said, ended up approving about half of those.

This said, Plant used the conclusion of budget deliberations to make some pointed remarks about Saanich’s long-term financial sustainability in his Facebook post.

“What is [incredibly] important and clear to me is that we must increase our revenues in a more diverse way than simply asking our homeowners to ‘pay the freight’ each year,” he said.

Saanich needs to grow its business base in looking at ways to increase development, he said. “Clearly our expenses are outpacing our revenues and we are not sustainable at having increases of double inflation,” he said.

Plant later clarified this comment. “I’m not suggesting by any stretch that Saanich is going to go bankrupt — we are not,” he said. “We are incredibly prudent in our budgeting, but our residents are being asked to pay increases above inflation and that eventually will become unsustainable. Growing the commercial tax base is an obvious way to combat this.”

Overall, Saanich’s budget amounts to $265.9 million, with $173.9 million going to operations and $92 million to capital.

Breaking down the 3.53 per cent increase, 2.29 per cent support current levels of municipal and police operations; .86 per cent support capital infrastructure replacement; .28 per cent cover resource requests; and .10 per cent go towards the Greater Victoria Public Library.

Council will consider and adopt the necessary financial plan and tax rate bylaws May 8 and May 10. Saanich will mail out tax notices to all property owners before the end of May.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A rider crosses a “skinny” on the newly opened trail known as 90s Jank, built within the Hartland system by volunteers with the South Island Mountain Bike Society. (Youtube/MTB Matt)
Mountain bikers celebrate first new trail in years on Saanich’s Mount Work

90s Jank trail a product of licence agreement between CRD and mountain bike society

Fire crews respond to the 3500-block of Blanshard Street in Saanich on April 16. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
UPDATED: BC Hydro crews repairing failed electrical equipment in Saanich

Vernon Avenue reopen to traffic following closure

An Extinction Rebellion Vancouver Island (XRVI) climate change event in 2019 saw a large crowd occupy the Johnson Street bridge. Black Press File Photo
Extinction Rebellion activists march from Vancouver to Victoria this weekend

The four-day trek ends at the B.C. legislature Monday, protest province’s environmental policy

The hiring of out-of-province workers by the Canadian Red Cross to staff the vaccination centre in Langford has raised eyebrows. (Black Press Media file photo)
Red Cross hires out-of-province workers to staff Langford vaccination centre

Staffer worries local jobs weren’t offered to local people

The District of Saanich announced April 12 that the Cedar Hill Golf Course clubhouse would remain closed for at least six months for repairs after a flood on Feb. 14 caused by faulty sprinklers. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
Faulty sprinklers to blame for second Cedar Hill Golf Course clubhouse closure in just over a year

Saanich facility facing six-month shutdown for flood repairs, course not impacted

Rainbow trouts thrashing with life as they’re about to be transferred to the largest lake of their lives, even though it’s pretty small. These rainbows have a blue tinge because they matched the blue of their hatchery pen, but soon they’ll take on the green-browns of their new home at Lookout Lake. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
VIDEO: Lookout Lake stocked with hatchery trout to delight of a seniors fishing club

The Cherish Trout Scouts made plans to come back fishing soon

For Leela Harrop, the recent death of her brother Raju Tiwari pushed her to sign up for the vaccine. Photo supplied
Island woman on fence about vaccine prompted by brother’s death

Leela Harrop of Comox says she did have issues with signing up online this past week

Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops. (Dave Eagles/Kamloops This Week file photo)
RCMP intercept vehicle fleeing with infant taken from Kamloops hospital

The baby was at the hospital receiving life-saving care

Vancouver Police Const. Deepak Sood is under review by the Independent Investigations Office of B.C. after making comments to a harm reduction advocate Sunday, April 11. (Screen grab)
VIDEO: Vancouver officer convicted of uttering threats under watchdog review again

Const. Deepak Sood was recorded Sunday saying ‘I’ll smack you’ and ‘go back to selling drugs’ to a harm reduction advocate

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry prepares a daily update on the coronavirus pandemic, April 21, 2020. (B.C. Government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate persists, 1,005 new cases Friday

Hospitalization up to 425, six more virus-related deaths

The Nautical Dog Cafe at Skaha marina is getting its patio ready in hopes Mother Nature will provide where provincial restrictions have taken away indoor dining. (Facebook)
‘A lot of instability’: B.C. restaurants in layoff limbo

As COVID-19 cases stay high, restaurants in British Columbia are closed to indoor dining

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau looks on as Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland responds to a question during a news conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Expectations high as Trudeau Liberals get ready to unveil first pandemic budget

The Liberals will look to thread an economic needle with Monday’s budget

John Furlong, Own The Podium board chairman and former CEO of the Vancouver Olympics, addresses a Vancouver Board of Trade luncheon in Vancouver, B.C., on Wednesday November 25, 2015.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
John Furlong presents 2030 Winter Games vision to Vancouver Board of Trade

Vancouver and Whistler would remain among host sites because of 2010 sport venues still operational

Photo by Metro Creative Connection
New campgrounds coming to B.C. parks as part of $83M provincial boost

This season alone, 185 campsites are being added to provincial parks, says Minister of Environment and Climate Change

Most Read