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Editorial: This North Shore budget season is tougher than most

If it seems like you’re hearing more about municipal budgets this year, it’s because you are.
North Vancouver
Homeowners will have to cough up a few extra dollars toward property taxes in both the City and District of North Vancouver after both councils supported their new budgets.

When your municipal tax bill arrives in the mail this year, brace yourself for a bit of sticker shock. Mid-way through municipal budget season, tax increases on the North Shore are expected to range from 4.15 to 5.24 per cent in 2023.

That’s less than the rate of inflation, but whether it’s a carton of eggs or a wastewater treatment plant, cost creep is an issue everywhere, and our councils have been making some difficult choices to limit the impact.

Tax-averse West Vancouver council has chosen to hold the line, essentially freezing staff and service levels where they are. With no new funding, we expect West Van’s parks to look a little rougher this year. To their credit, council is adding to the asset levy, which is committed to keeping the district’s infrastructure from falling apart, something they neglected for far too long.

Across the Capilano River, the District of North Vancouver has been doing proper asset management for decades, which makes tax increases for infrastructure much smaller and more predictable.

Yet, on Queens Road, council is being rightly taken to task by the community for failing to deliver funding for long-promised new artificial turf fields and active transportation infrastructure. Without any tangible progress on the Spirit Trail to Deep Cove or a suitable place for kids to play, DNV council stands accused of shirking both climate and safety responsibilities.

These are the tradeoffs every council struggles with at budget time. One taxpayer’s nice-to-have is another’s must-have. And municipal councils, being the level of government closest to the people, must brace for an earful no matter which way they go.

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