VANCOUVER, B.C. – On Tuesday, December 7, 2021, Vancouver City Council passed a $1.747 billion Operating Budget for 2022 which will result in a 6.35% property tax increase.
Councillors Carr, Fry and Wiebe prioritized climate action, the safety of all residents, and delivering equitable city services when deciding which initiatives to fund.
“The city was hit hard by COVID — the budget and our residents are feeling mounting pressures, '' said Councillor Fry. “On top of that, this Council has had to make up for chronic underfunding of core services by previous administrations, and senior governments have increasingly downloaded costs such as mental health and homelessness onto municipalities. Those shortfalls became manifest especially as a result of the pandemic.
“We had difficult decisions to make, but Greens are committed to funding the services that will equitably improve the lives of residents and help them weather this storm.”
Fry, who is Chair of the Auditor General Committee, explained that Greens supported funding the Independent Auditor’s Office as it will likely result in significant cost savings in future years.
“Funding the AG office is planting a tree that will yield fruit for us next year and for years to come.”
Councillor Wiebe relayed worries he’s been hearing in the community while highlighting the importance of funding traditional public safety measures as well as community-based alternatives.
“Safety is a huge concern for a lot of people right now,” said Wiebe. “From increased property crimes to the contaminated drug supply, many people across the city are feeling fearful, frustrated, and at risk. I want to ensure we are broadening the spectrum and supporting our existing community safety services so that all residents are adequately protected.”
Wiebe’s final comments reflected his commitment to business and the environment. “Funding economic initiatives are investments in our future. Improving the circularity of our city will not only help the environment but will create dignified, well-paying jobs for our residents.”
Council also passed a separate levy of $9 million per year, put forward by Councillor Adriane Carr, that will go towards funding the Climate Emergency Action Plan (CEAP) previously approved by Council.
“Climate action is essential for the health and wellbeing of our residents now and children and grandchildren in the future. The climate-caused heat dome last summer caused the deaths of 99 Vancouver residents,” exclaimed Councillor Carr while adding the amendment which also specified how the $9 million should be spent in 2022.
Carr’s amendment directed staff to allocate the money as follows:
- $2.5 million to Electric Vehicle (EV) infrastructure, including $0.5 million for on-street EV chargers, power drops for community events and chargers in rental buildings, and $2 million for EV charging infrastructure for City-owned fleet and new zero-emission fleet equipment;
- $2 million to support Complete Communities, including $0.5 million for transit infrastructure, $0.5 million for slow street maintenance and improvements, $1.0 million for walking and cycling improvements, including to Vancouver schools;
$2 million to address Natural Climate Solutions, including $0.15 million for a new climate manager position in Park Board; $0.5 million for tree planting pits in the Downtown Eastside and $0.5 million for tree planting city-wide (*Parks); and $0.85 million for quick start project arising from Big Move 6;
- $2 million for building retrofits for Vancouver civic facilities including community centres and libraries to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and simultaneously provide safe centres during extreme weather and air quality events to address climate resiliency;
- $0.5 million to be set aside in the 2022 operating budget for Council to allocate to climate emergency action initiatives.
“If we fail to fund climate action and resilience now, we will pay for it down the road,” said Carr. “Over the last year, we’ve seen the devastating effects of climate change all around us in our province. Unfortunately things are only going to get worse from here unless we take bold action.
“We’ve had to make particularly tough decisions this year, but as Greens we have prioritized climate action and services that will make the most impact in peoples’ lives, now and in years to come.”