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West Van Taxpayers’ Action Committee

Blog by Kasha Riddle | April 19th, 2006

Some West Vancouver residents and property-owners concerned about the increasing and disproportionate [relative to the GVRD average] operating costs of the District of West Vancouver (“DWV”) have recently formed the Interested Taxpayers’ Action Committee (“ITAC”).


They have submitted to the Council, that the 2006 District budget as proposed by municipal staff ought not to be accepted. They also recommend that Council appoint a “Budget and Operational Efficiency Committee”, whose mandate would be to find ways and means to effect cost savings respecting District operations.

According to BC Stats, between the years 2000 and 2005, the DWV population has grown by an estimated 1,122 people or, on average, 224 per year. In other words, the District’s population has been essentially static for the past five years and, as of 2005, stood at an estimated 44,149 people.

According to StatsCan, since the year 2000, the CPI for the Greater Vancouver area has increased by an average 2.4% per year. In each of the past two years, it was 2.14% and 1.53%, respectively.

Yet, according to figures obtained from the 2004 DWV annual report, since the year 2000, the DWV has experienced:

  • an aggregate wage, salary and benefit cost increase of 21.6%, for an average annual increase of 5.4%; and


  • a total residential property class tax increase of 16.2%, for an average annual increase of 4.1%.

Further, according to figures compiled from the BC Ministry of Community Services web-site, between the years 2002 and 2005, the DWV has seen:

  • municipal operating costs per capita above the GVRD average of  72% (2002), 74%(2003), and 87%(2004), respectively [figures for the year 2005 are not as yet available];

  • a tax burden on the average residential property above the GVRD average of 67%(2003), 71%(2004) and 74%(2005), respectively; and

  • a tax burden on the average residential property of 48%(2004) and 49%(2005) above the next highest GVRD municipality.

Finally, and again according to the BC Ministry of Community Services web-site, for the year 2005, the DWV had:

  • a taxation rate per capita of 58.6% above the GVRD average, 16.4% above that of the next highest municipality, being the City of Vancouver, and 48% above the combined average rate for the City and District of North Vancouver.

While not completely within the District’s control, although affecting resident property-owners all the same, DWV utility rates have gone up for 2006, in the case of water, by a remarkable 7% and, in the case of sewer & drainage, by an astonishing13.5%.

Also, while not within the District’s control, DWV property-owners carry a disproportionately high tax burden with respect to the financing of the GVTA (“TransLink”). For instance, in the year 2005, DWV property tax per capita respecting TransLink was $175.49, some 79.2% above the GVRD average. This amount is a staggering 95.6% above what it was only two years previous.

In addition, the salaries and benefit costs of Blue Bus employees are paid for in their entirety by DWV property tax-payers, a situation that pertains in no other GVRD municipality.

This situation is overly burdensome, especially as property tax is paid from income that, in most instances, has itself already been heavily taxed. For increasing numbers of DWV property-owners, many of long-standing residence in our community, it is also becoming financially unsustainable.

Therefore Council is urged not to approve the District budget for 2006 as proposed. Rather the staff be instructed to sharpen their pencils and return to Council with a budget proposal that involves, ideally, no tax increase for this year or, at the very least, one that is no greater than the prevailing inflation rate for the Vancouver area (i.e. 1.5%).

Further it has been recommended that Council appoint a “Budget and Operational Efficiency Committee”, to be comprised of certain municipal staff and members of ITAC, whose mandate would be to determine ways and means to effect cost-savings respecting District operations. In making this recommendation, the objective is to trigger a process that will lead to future DWV budgets that involve either no tax increases or, if at all possible, tax reductions, while at the same time preserving or enhancing the delivery levels of various District services.

The signatories of this petition in closing emphasise: “We consider ourselves fortunate to live in West Vancouver and appreciate the existing calibre of available municipal services. Nevertheless, we believe the same or better service levels can be delivered for fewer tax dollars. We are prepared to volunteer our time and talents, such as they may be, in an effort to help achieve this result. In passing, we note that the District’s existing “Financial Advisory Committee” has cancelled six of its last nine scheduled meetings. We would intend to take a much more activist approach. In conclusion, we wish to emphasize that in no way do we envision the work of the proposed  “Budget and Operational Efficiency Committee” to be an exercise in finger-pointing. We intend that its members be guided in their enquiries and deliberations by the Japanese adage Fix the problem, not the blame.”

For further information please contact  David O. Marley, dmarley@uniserve.com

Tel. 604-926-8994 / Fax 604-926-8950