The Capital Regional District board on Wednesday (March 29) approved its 2023 budget which will see a 3.4 per cent increase in property taxes.
This year’s budget totals $690 million in funding for the CRD, along with its regional hospital and housing divisions. That includes $292 million in capital spending which the district said will largely focus on constructing and renewing infrastructure that ensures essential services.
Senior government and partner support helped keep the tax increase below the rate of inflation, the CRD said in a Wednesday statement. The regional government’s board chair said the budget will protect vital services and invest in community needs while taking a prudent approach.
“The board acknowledges that inflation and economic pressures are impacting everybody,” Colin Plant said.
The passed budget touts funding for: a West Shore project that includes hospice facilities and a special unit for younger adults needing long-term care; a $9.6-million initiative that aims to reduce emissions by upgrading gas captured at Hartland Landfill so it can be sold to Fortis BC; $8.3 million for systems that use ultraviolet light to disinfect the water supply; Gulf Island and Oak Bay wastewater projects; and trail network additions and repairs.
Capital projects also include $5 million for potential land acquisitions for regional parks and $17 million, with some of that coming from grants, for a 51-unit housing project in Central Saanich that will mainly serve tenants with low to moderate incomes.
A presentation to the board this month said the capital portion is expected to create 1,694 new jobs in the Capital Region due to the flow of goods and services. The largest portion of those new positions (27 per cent) relates to building “affordable” housing.
After the draft plan was first introduced in September, items added to the finalized budget include a one-time allotment for relationship building with First Nations, a one-year funding renewal for the Aboriginal Coalition to End Homelessness, a regional Canada Goose management service and inspection resources for addressing building permit backlogs in electoral areas.
Director Zac de Vries, who chairs the Capital Regional Housing Corporation, was the lone member to vote in opposition as he said housing was the largest issue facing the region and the budget fails to invest enough in that stream.
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