Victoria is drawing up an 8.37 per cent increase in property taxes in the first draft of its 2024 budget.
On average, that’s a $640 increase for businesses and a $240 increase for households, according to the City of Victoria.
“It’s too much. How can people afford it?” said Clasina van Bemmel, who lives and owns property in B.C.’s capital.
The total operating budget for 2024 is projected to increase by more than $12 million from 2023’s budget — a hike being driven by inflation and contractual responsibilities, according to Mayor Marianne Alto.
“It’s a general cost of living increase,” said Alto.
“I think the important thing about this budget is that it’s reasonable, it’s practical. It acknowledges the challenges that are ahead of us, the realities of what it costs to borrow, and the realities of what our residents can pay.”
Though the budget is not finished by any means, Victoria isn’t alone in facing a tax increase next year.
On the peninsula, Central Saanich is looking at a seven per cent increase. Nanaimo, meanwhile, is eyeing a 6.4 per cent rise, and Osoyoos, which is facing issues with its water and wastewater systems, is looking at a nearly 40 per cent uptick.
A creative way the City of Victoria is looking to balance the budget is through corporate sponsorships and naming rights.
“It’s something I’ve been trying to bring forward for years,” said Alto. “Yes, it’s corporate sponsorship, but it can be non-profits or local credit unions,” said Alto, adding that she hopes local companies would be sought for sponsorships.
Alto mentions looking at businesses to sponsor city events but is also open to renaming things like bridges and other infrastructure.
“This is a new concept for this council,” said Alto. “I’m thrilled they’re willing to talk about it, and we’ll see where it goes.”
For now, the budget will simmer for the holiday season. This first draft of the budget will likely face some tweaks before being adopted in April.