General Questions

    How does the District balance the budget?

    Municipalities are required by the Provincial legislation to balance their budgets, which means that all budgeted expenditures must have revenues in place to cover them.

    After looking at all other sources of revenue, the cost of providing the desired services must be balanced with a tax increase that the community can afford at any one time.

    What is the operating budget?

    The operating budget funds the ongoing operations of assets residents and businesses use, such as streets, parks, trails and cultural and recreational programs, and provides services such as police and fire. The majority of costs are wage-related, along with operating costs for  District of West Vancouver facilities.

    West Vancouver’s challenging geography impacts the cost of essential services compared to other municipalities.

    After accounting for all other revenues, the cost of these services is funded through property taxes.

    What is the capital budget?

    West Vancouver, like almost every municipality in Canada, has ageing infrastructure that requires a long-term plan and financial resources to repair, maintain, and replace assets. This includes everything from community centres and the Seawalk to park benches, streets, and sidewalks.

    The capital budget provides funds for maintenance and replacement of infrastructure, such as roads, District facilities, and parks and trails.

    Capital projects are prioritized by Council and outlined in their Strategic Plan. The majority of capital projects are funded by the Asset Levy.

    How is the District's capital budget developed?

    Capital budgeting is a long-term planning process, aligned with the District’s asset management plan. It starts with a comprehensive review and analysis of all existing District’s capital assets, projecting maintenance and replacement costs over a 20-year period, ensuring our capital assets remain at their optimal level. 

    This annual asset management groundwork forms the basis for capital budget requests.

    What makes up the District’s budget?

    The District’s consolidated budget is made up of the individual budget of various funds. Each fund is a stand-alone business entity that engages in specific service activities and has its own particular revenues, expenditures, reserves and capital program. Each fund also has its own particular approach to budgeting and rate setting.A chart describing the approaches of the General Fund, Utility Funds, and other stand-alone funds.

    Click to view larger image.

    What is the focus for the District's 2024 Budget?

    The focus of the 2024 Budget is on:

    • Restoring the asset reserves to keep the current District's assets at their optimal levels;
    • Improving the delivery of core services to the residents and businesses within the District;
    • Aligning the budget with Council's new strategic priorities; and
    • Maintaining the District's long-term fiscal sustainability and resilience.

    What factors influence the development of the budget?

    The budget process, and the decisions that must be made on how to best lead the development of a safe, vibrant and sustainable city, are supported by the following plans: 

    • Official Community Plan
    • Asset Management Plan
    • Council Strategic Plan

    What falls under the category of “General Government?” Could you provide a breakdown of expenses within this category?

    The General Government category contain costs that are not directly attributable to a service area. It includes a provision for wage settlements, legal costs, insurance, fiscal services (e.g. debt repayment, transactional fees for payment systems and interest for tax prepayments), grants in aid program, one-time initiatives that are funded from reserves and grants, provision for election/by-election, third party works that are fully recoverable from the third party, transfer of revenue earned or grant funding received to various reserves, allocation of tax revenue to the Ambleside Dundarave Business Improvement Association per the bylaw and a provision for employer paid costs (fringe benefits: EI, CPP, WCB, Employer Health Tax) included in total compensation.

    There may be certain requirements tied to provincial grants received by the District that obliges the District to transfer the funds to designated reserves to be used for eligible projects, like the one-time Growing Communities Fund of $8 million in 2023. Also, the provisions for wage settlements, election/by-election and employer paid costs (fringe benefits) are funded from their associated operating reserve.

    The table below provides a detailed breakdown of inclusion in the three 2024 Budget Options and 2023 Approved Budget.

    Click to view larger image.

    In the presentation, an amount of $.02 M was mentioned for "homelessness camp". What is meant by "homelessness camp" and how is the $.02M going to be spent?

    Since the COVID-19 pandemic, the District of West Vancouver (“District”) has seen a notable increase in encampments of people who are experiencing homelessness. The cleanup of these camps, including the removal and disposal of associated garbage and hazardous materials needs to be performed by experienced contractors. Originally, this work was covered by the provincial COVID Safe Restart Grant, but that grant has since expired. The proposed $.02 million is intended for compensating contracted services.

    The cleanup is required to prevent the expansion of these sites, safeguarding the health and safety of the public and environment. It aims to enhance the viability of certain areas and parks in the District while ensuring that people who are unhoused or underhoused and are associated with these sites are given contacts and access to the appropriate supports. It also aims to mitigate potential escalation to the West Vancouver Police and reduce the viability of encampment areas to wildlife. The District has, and anticipates ongoing, expenditures for the cleanup of these encampments. These cleanups can occur in accessible areas or more remote parts, which can complicate the work and impact the cost.

Additional School Tax

    Does the additional school tax (AST) come back into the District?

    The additional school tax is provincial tax. It goes to the Province into general revenue for school purposes. The tax is assessed on residential properties valued over $3M. 

    School tax - Province of British Columbia

Environmental Reserve

    What type of programs can be funded by the Environment Reserve?

    The Environment Reserve is established by bylaw with specific uses for how it can be spent such as adaptation and mitigation in relation to climate change. Please refer to Environmental Reserve Fund Bylaw Part 4.1 "Use of the Fund" for eligible programs.

    Why hasn't an increase in the Environmental Levy been incorporated into either the Minimum Budget or the Preferred Budget options, considering the District has not met the greenhouse gas emission target?

    There is no proposed increase to the Environmental Levy in the Minimum Budget and Preferred Budget options in order to wait until the climate action strategy and workplan is developed. However, in the Best Practice Budget option, an increase is proposed to build up funds to cover and tackle costly climate change programs.

    How much has been allocated for heat pump incentives (rebates) and in how many buildings will gas furnaces likely be replaced with heat pumps in 2024? Does the District have data on how many such retrofits have already been achieved?

    In 2023, Council approved a total allocation of $354,000 from the Environmental Reserve for the Heat Pump Rebate program. The year-to-date actual expenditure is $199,000. The remaining balance, left unused, will be carried forward to the 2024 Budget. As this incentive is funded through the Environmental Reserve, it doesn’t impact the current year’s tax rate.

    Unfortunately, staff do not have a specific mechanism to track the total number of homes that switch from natural gas to electric heat pumps for space/water heating in any given year. Staff do receive data on the number of homeowners that receive the municipal top-up rebate (28 in 2021, 38 in 2022, 48+ in 2023 – waiting for final numbers) through the Provincial Better Homes Rebate Program; however, this may not be all of the homes that switched to heat pumps as staff are aware that some homeowners do not apply for the rebates for various reasons.

    It is also difficult to track the number of switches as homeowners do not necessarily need a permit to install a heat pump unless an electrical upgrade is required. As a large proportion of the greenhouse gases (GHG) emissions in the municipality come from the existing building stock, having these data is very important to track progress towards our GHG emission reduction targets. Therefore, the District’s new Environment Committee is now looking at ways to gather data from homeowners so the District can improve our tracking of homes that switch from natural gas to heat pumps each year.

Labour Costs & Staffing

    What makes up the District labour costs?

    The District labour costs are determined by the annual labour model, which is a position driven financial model covering the base salary and fringe benefits for each position. The job duty and responsibility define the pay grid for each position. 

    The fringe benefits supplement an employee's salary in addition to their normal wage. For the District, what is included in fringe benefits are provincially or federally required payments such as EI, CPP, WCB and the health tax in addition to items that are negotiated into the collective agreements such as extended medical/dental and life insurance.

    How often does the municipality go through labour contracts?

    The District has six bargaining units on different contracts. The term of the contracts can vary from one year to three years. In general the contracts run for three years.

    Is there a voluntary program in place where we have residents of West Vancouver coming to give their services, and would these labour costs then decrease?

    The District benefits from volunteers, with many volunteer groups contributing commendable work within the community. However, their tasks often differ from those handled by District staff, particularly in specialized areas like Finance, Planning, and Engineering. Moreover, managing volunteers necessitates additional staff effort.

Parks, Culture & Community Services

    The presentation indicates that Parks, Culture & Community Services expenses constitute 16% of total general fund expenses. Could you please provide a breakdown of these expenses?

    The table below provides the detailed breakdown of total expenses for Parks, Culture & Community Services in the 2024 Budget options. 

    Click to view larger image.

Revenue Sources

    What are the revenue sources for the District?

    Besides property taxes, investment income and building permits are the other major sources of revenue. The District focuses on revenue generation and starting in early 2024, pay parking at three destination parks will be implemented. However, it remains to be seen how much revenue will be generated from that program.

    The present windfall interest revenue isn't permanent and is expected to diminish soon. When this revenue stream is no longer accessible, how do we compensate for the loss in revenue?

    Each year the District strives to achieve a structurally balanced budget that supports financial sustainability. This means that recurring revenues are used to fund recurring expenditures in the budget. The interest revenue is carefully considered based on economic outlook and strategic cash flow management to ensure that amount can be maintained for multiple years into the future.

    The difference between available revenue and expenses is then balanced by the additional property tax.

    What's included in the "Other Revenue?"

    "Other Revenue" includes administration fees from TransLink and Utilities for recovering staff labour costs in administrating these programs, interest on investments, District facility rental and lease revenues, and tax penalties and interest.


    What do utility rates fund?

    The Utilities are each funded by their own separate rates, and not by property taxes. Over 48% of the District’s utility fees are regional fees used to support the purchase of drinking water and treatment of sanitary sewerage. These services are provided by Metro Vancouver. Local costs include the District’s utility operations, infrastructure, and reserves.

    Is the Asset Levy used for fund maintenance and replacement costs of assets under the Utility Funds?

    The assets pertaining to the Utility Funds (Water, Sewer and Solid Waste) are funded from user rates and not the Asset Levy.

Transit - Blue Bus

    If West Vancouver did not have the Blue Bus and transit is completely under TransLink would there be an impact on these costs?

    The District manages and operates the Blue Bus under a contract with TransLink. TransLink covers all of the costs related to the Blue Bus so it does not affect the tax rate.

    My question wasn't answered here. How can I ask a question about the budget?

    If you still have a question after reviewing the FAQs above or would like to provide feedback, email Up to three questions can be included per submission, and staff will endeavour to provide a response within five business days. Questions will be answered in the order in which they are received. At this incredibly busy time, your patience is appreciated.

    Feedback will be accepted from Wednesday, January 3 to Friday, January 19 at 4 p.m.