A view of the first and second phases of Uptown. Saanich credits the development with helping reduce this year’s tax hike.

Saanich credits Uptown with easing tax hike

3.25 per cent jump likely higher without shopping complex

Saanich councillors have summed up residents’ descriptions of Uptown using milder terms such as “uninviting,” “imposing” and “monolithic.”

And while there appears to be no shortage of opposition to any or all aspects of the mega-development, Mayor Frank Leonard says Uptown was a godsend amid an economic downturn.

“It saved us through this economic slowdown because there hasn’t been much other growth,” Leonard said, pointing to a huge jump in property taxes the owner now pays.

In 2007, while the former Town & Country strip mall occupied that site, the property was valued at $34 million. The owner was paying $800,000 in taxes, $435,000 of which went to Saanich.

But Uptown is a much larger, much more bustling development. The property is now valued at $240 million, with Saanich receiving $2.8 million in property taxes from the site.

“I don’t know what we would do to bring taxes (to a reasonable level) if we didn’t have the Uptown revenues,” Leonard said.

Last week Saanich council approved a 3.25 per cent tax hike – lower than the 3.6 per cent originally forecast, after council asked staff for a reduction. For a Saanich home at the average value of $626,000, that equates to an additional $65.30 in property taxes.

Leonard predicts that, had Uptown not come along when it did, that property tax increase for homeowners would likely be higher, to maintain the level of service that residents expect from the municipality.

“We’ve been able to maintain (an operational) tax increase of 2.5 per cent year to year. We accomplish that by restraining all departments except police and fire,” Leonard said. “If we didn’t have the Uptown revenues, council would have to decide what they’d do to bring taxes to that level.”

Paul Murray, Saanich’s director of finance, says homeowners would likely be paying roughly $10 more per year if Uptown wasn’t around.

“We get extra revenue from subdivision, or adding more inventory. And that’s what’s happened at Uptown,” Murray said. “With the economy going south, and housing starts and commercial building activity slowing, Uptown’s sort of kept us going. It’s made up for the difference.”

Leonard says now that Uptown’s second phase is nearing completion, council remains “receptive” to redevelopment proposals in the Saanich core.

If the economy doesn’t recover, and redevelopments don’t happen, he says council will be forced to make some even tougher decisions.

“We want to encourage (property owners) to redevelop sooner than later – sooner would make a positive impact to the municipality’s bottom line,” he said.

“But as long as Greece is the word, we’re not going to be coming out of this for a while.”





Just Posted

Greater Victoria records a drop in EI recipients

2,140 received regular EI benefits in March 2019, a drop of 3.2 per cent

Playground a fitting tribute to Sarah Beckett

West Shore Rotary sells bricks to raise funds for playground equipment

Light wind sends half of Swiftsure yacht fleet back to shore early

Many racers return overnight in unusual race conditions

Leaving dog in hot car can result in $75,000 fine, prohibition from owning animals, prison

B.C. SPCA received 800 calls last year about dogs left in hot cars

Radio Host Erin Davis pens Mourning Has Broken following death of her daughter

Book by North Saanich woman gives advice to others struggling with grief

WATCH: Thousands enjoy sunshine at second annual Village Block Party

Cook Street filled with local food, music and more

Social media giants in hot seat as politicians consider regulations in Ottawa

Committee members will also grill representatives from Facebook, Twitter

Wildfire crews watching for dangerous wind shift in High Level, Alta.

The Chuckegg Creek fire is raging out of control about three kilometres southwest of the town

UN urges Canada to take more vulnerable Mexican migrants from Central America

The request comes as the United States takes a harder line on its Mexican border

Mistrial declared in Jamie Bacon murder plot trial

Bacon was on trial for counselling to commit the murder of Person X

B.C. VIEWS: Money-laundering melodrama made for TV

Public inquiry staged to point fingers before 2021 election

Canadian homebuyers escaping high housing costs by moving to secondary cities

In British Columbia, exurbs have grown in the Hope Valley and Kamloops

Feds lay out proposed new rules for voice, video recorders in locomotives

Transport Canada wants to limit use of recorders to if a crew’s actions led to a crash

Most Read