Saanich council claims making housing affordable is a top priority. They can’t stop the rapid increase in property values, but they can control how much they spend. From 2002 until 2018 Saanich residential property taxes increased by 80.49 per cent. The inflation rate in BC during this time went up 27 per cent (Statistics Canada). Whether people living in their homes, or landlords covering their expenses through rent, Saanich is consistently increasing costs beyond average increases in income.
According to Grumpy Taxpayer$ of Greater Victoria – Saanich should tighten up management, share more service, focus on core responsibilities, sell assets, use higher revenues from the economic boom to moderate taxes, scale down or delay capital projects, and moderate pay and benefits.
When screening candidates in preparation for this month’s municipal elections, look for commitments to improving affordability through controlling spending. Many long term career Saanich councillors seem to believe the taxpayer is a limitless source for revenue. Replace them with candidates that acknowledge excessive increases in municipal taxes decreases living affordability. There is a group of candidates called “United for Saanich” (I have no affiliation) that will work together for common goals. Their web site includes a video that says “We will bring a new approach to budgeting that improves affordability”. Look for candidates that have such priorities.
Related, we should approve spending what is a relatively small amount to establish a Citizens’ Assembly to explore the costs, benefits and disadvantages of the amalgamation between the District of Saanich and the City of Victoria. This will tell us whether combining municipalities will create efficiencies that will lower taxes, or at least limit increases. Be wary of municipal candidates that are against this study, as their priority may be increasing their chances for employment.