Property owners in the Cowichan Valley Regional District will see an average tax increase of 11.49 per cent in 2023.
The CVRD’s board passed its budget for the year at a special meeting on March 8, with two directors voting against it.
A large portion of the tax increase, 4.67 per cent, is related to increased recreation costs after the successful referendum on a new cost structure for recreational facilities in the district that was held in October.
The increased costs of regional recreation in the CVRD in 2023 is $5.25 million over and above what they were in 2022 due to the referendum results.
The CVRD’s tax increase in 2022 was 4.09 per cent.
Saltair/Gulf Islands director Jesse McClinton said that during the budget-building process, there were a number of directors and municipal representatives on the board that were against the new funding formula for regional recreation and looked for opportunities to mitigate it.
“I would say that we came up short on this budget,” he said.
“Hopefully, we can work together moving forward.”
Cobble Hill director Mike Wilson also said he’s not pleased with the budget.
“There’s not a lot of changes in it that we promised the electorate, with sharpening of pencils and getting the razors out, so I’m not happy with what’s going on here,” he said.
CVRD chair Aaron Stone, who is also mayor of Ladysmith, said board members came to the budget process with a focus and a desire to put forward what they felt were the most fiscally responsible budget decisions possible.
“We have a diversity of views at this table around what fiscal responsibility means, and sometimes that means trying to keep taxes low versus looking at value for taxpayers over the long term,” he said.
“I hope that as we move forward, especially the group of newly elected leaders here, that we are able to find good value for our constituents. I do appreciate the frustration. I share it as Ladysmith has a 46 per cent tax increase at the CVRD this year due to regional recreation. It’s a stressful year for all of us.”
Lake Cowichan mayor Tim McGonigle said, unfortunately, the CVRD experienced a perfect storm because of regional recreation and its impacts, as well as other issues.
He said he believes all the board members did their very best at coming forward with ideas on reductions.
“In the end, we all do own the process, but I think that we, as a collective group, could have looked differently at some holistic values moving forward, taking into consideration that we are experiencing the highest inflation in decades and the impacts of the referendum on other options,” McGonigle said.
“I will reluctantly support the budget but I do think we can do a better job in the future.”
Drafting budgets for the CVRD is a complex process as its budget is made up of 180 individual budgets.
These budgets include regional services paid by all district residents, electoral area services such as planning and service-specific budgets like water and utilities.
The differences in tax rates across the CVRD stems from the amount and types of services each region in the district has agreed to participate in and pay for.
This is different from municipal budgets where the costs are shared equally across the municipality.
As well, the impact on taxes for individual properties will vary depending on the change in assessment for those properties relative to property assessment changes throughout the region.
Details of the impact on properties and jurisdictions is contained in the schedules available on the CVRD website.
Tax increase implications of the 2022 budget in each area of the CVRD, per average home:
• Electoral Area A: Mill Bay/Malahat
Average home $1,000,777: Tax increase $112.70 per home
• Electoral Area B: Shawnigan Lake
Average home $1,060,306: Tax increase $100.47 per home
• Electoral Area C: Cobble Hill
Average home $970,848: Tax increase $127.62 per home
• Electoral Area D: Cowichan Bay
Average home $849,029: Tax increase $74.73
• Electoral Area E: Cowichan Station/Sahtlam/Glenora
Average home $832,488: Tax increase $127.77
• Electoral Area F: Cowichan Lake South/Skutz Falls
Average home $972,080: Tax increase $150.07
• Electoral Area G: Saltair/Gulf Islands
Average home: $805,437: Tax increase $135.62
• Electoral Area H: North Oyster/Diamond
Average home $921,485: Tax increase $149.90
• Electoral Area I: Youbou/Meade Creek
Average home $1,183,858: Tax increase $116.61
• City of Duncan
Average home $553,294: Tax increase $53.13
• Municipality of North Cowichan/north end
Average home $755,206: Tax increase $166.61
• Municipality of North Cowichan/south end
Average home $755,206: Tax increase $58.37
• Town of Ladysmith
Average home $716,388: Tax increase $157.62
• Town of Lake Cowichan
Average home $641,662: Tax increase $137.52