Nanoose Bay has some beautiful views on Vancouver Island, and in 2024 it may also end up with the largest property tax increase in the region.
The electoral area’s taxes are projected to rise 17.5 per cent, and some residents are taking exception.
“We’re clearly upset about it cause you got a lot of older folks, like me, on fixed income and then you have a lot of younger folks that are trying to pay the increased mortgage payments and food costs and everything else, and then we get hit with a 17.5 per cent increase?” said Wayne Stark of the Northwest Nanoose Residents Association.
Nanoose Bay’s Regional Director is hoping people will give their input on this year’s budget.
“…and really assess the services and whether or not they want those services and whether they want them maintained at a quality level,” said Bob Rogers, the Regional District of Nanaimo ‘Area E’ director.
Rogers said inflation, wage increases, capital projects and park purchases are among the cost drivers this year.
Nanoose Bay is not alone. Vancouver Island’s largest cities and municipalities – including Victoria, Saanich and Nanaimo – are also projecting above normal property tax increases of roughly eight per cent, nearly double this year’s inflation rate.
Meanwhile, the Regional District of Nanaimo is projecting a 13.5 per cent increase spanning its properties from Cedar to north of Qualicum Beach.
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North Cowichan’s former mayor, Al Siebring, now a municipal consultant, says municipalities kept property taxes artificially low during the pandemic.
“But now they’re playing catch up with certain things that have to be done that they put off at that time,” said Siebring. “I mean, roads don’t fix themselves and underground infrastructure that needs replacing needs replacing, so that’s part of it, is a bit of a COVID hangover.”
Siebring says the opioid and housing crises have also left municipalities paying larger bills for bylaw, fire and policing.
“You could argue that’s a download from the province because municipalities are the ones left holding the bag in terms of dealing with the street disorder, and that comes at a price,” said Siebring.
Siebring says the budget for the Vancouver Island Regional Library has also jumped, affecting all areas north of the Malahat. North Cowichan, for example, is looking at a one per cent tax increase for the library before any other item.
He also says inflation impacts municipal governments hard because energy, equipment and contract costs have been rising quicker than the rate of inflation.
When asked about tax increases above 10 per cent, Siebring said they’re not sustainable. “Every year it’s a compounded increase from the year before, and at some point the homeowner says I can’t afford to live here anymore.”
In Nanoose Bay, if the tax rate increase remains at 17.5 percent this year, Rogers said a home appraised at $1.3 million will see it’s taxes go up $173 this year, to $1,162.