2020 Budget

Update: March 31

At its March 30 meeting, West Vancouver Council deferred adoption of the 2020 budget until April 20. The original budget was prepared to support Council’s Strategic Goals and Objectives. That work plan has been suspended temporarily in the face of the District’s COVID-19 response.

Staff have been reviewing expenditures and obligations, together with falling revenues, to bring forward a budget that will continue to support and provide the essential services that the community expects.

“This is a $400 million budget of operating, capital and various funds.” said Mayor Mary-Ann Booth, “ So far, over 450 employees have been laid off. Programs have been cancelled and facilities have been closed. There are likely more layoffs coming, so it is a moving target each day and sometimes each hour, especially with the provincial and federal announcements around funding relief and activity restrictions,” she said. “So we'll be looking for every available cost-cutting measure we can find, moving to only essential services for the next three to six months, and really sticking to the bare necessities”.

Public input on the revised budget will be available online, but only for a short period of time. To be notified when the revised budget is available for review and comment, please subscribe to project updates on the sidebar of this page (under Stay Informed).


Update: February 13

Staff have refined the proposed tax rate increase and the following tax rates will be presented for Council’s consideration on February 24, 2020.

  • Operating Levy Increase – 3.74%
  • Asset Levy Increase – 0.5%
  • Natural Capital / Climate Response Levy – 1%

Review the revised 2020 Budget Highlights (PDF) to learn about this year's proposed budget at a glance.


Update: January 28

Staff provided the 6.16% number as a preliminary tax increase, in a report to Council on December 16, 2019, based on the best information available at that time. View the entire Proposed Five-Year Financial Plan 2020–2024 (PDF).

At the recent budget meeting on January 28, 2020, staff noted that this information had been updated, and the requested increase was now 5.48%. Council have yet to approve any increase, and staff will continue to refine the proposed tax rate increase as new information becomes available. A report with tax rate options will be presented for Council’s consideration on February 24, 2020.


What's in the proposed 2020 budget?

The 2020 proposed budget includes:

  • A proposed tax increase of 3.95%
  • An Asset Levy of 0.5%, and
  • A new Climate Levy of 1%

…for a total of 5.45%.

Mayor Mary Ann Booth helps explains the 2020 proposed budget:

Read the Mayor's Update


What is new this year?

This year, we are incorporating natural asset maintenance and climate action emergency response into the budget.

The budget will include projects to greatly lower the greenhouse gas emissions from both District operations and in the community, as well as climate change response projects such as tree canopy studies, storm water and foreshore management projects, wildfire protection and stream rehabilitation.

Learn more about West Vancouver’s Natural Assets


Budget information meetings

Thank you to everyone that attended a budget information meeting. Meetings took place on January 28, 29 and 30.

All questions asked at the information meetings and staff responses are featured in the Feedback tab below and as PDFs here:

Budget Information Meetings Presentation


BC Property Assessment

The average assessed value of residential properties in West Vancouver went down by 14.8%, from $2.9 million in 2019 to $2.5 million in 2020.

You can see the changes in the assessed value of residential properties in West Vancouver on an interactive heatmap:

2020 Assessment Change Heat Map

Additional information about the assessment of residential properties can be found on the BC Assessment website:

BC Assessment - Frequently Asked Questions


Update: March 31

At its March 30 meeting, West Vancouver Council deferred adoption of the 2020 budget until April 20. The original budget was prepared to support Council’s Strategic Goals and Objectives. That work plan has been suspended temporarily in the face of the District’s COVID-19 response.

Staff have been reviewing expenditures and obligations, together with falling revenues, to bring forward a budget that will continue to support and provide the essential services that the community expects.

“This is a $400 million budget of operating, capital and various funds.” said Mayor Mary-Ann Booth, “ So far, over 450 employees have been laid off. Programs have been cancelled and facilities have been closed. There are likely more layoffs coming, so it is a moving target each day and sometimes each hour, especially with the provincial and federal announcements around funding relief and activity restrictions,” she said. “So we'll be looking for every available cost-cutting measure we can find, moving to only essential services for the next three to six months, and really sticking to the bare necessities”.

Public input on the revised budget will be available online, but only for a short period of time. To be notified when the revised budget is available for review and comment, please subscribe to project updates on the sidebar of this page (under Stay Informed).


Update: February 13

Staff have refined the proposed tax rate increase and the following tax rates will be presented for Council’s consideration on February 24, 2020.

  • Operating Levy Increase – 3.74%
  • Asset Levy Increase – 0.5%
  • Natural Capital / Climate Response Levy – 1%

Review the revised 2020 Budget Highlights (PDF) to learn about this year's proposed budget at a glance.


Update: January 28

Staff provided the 6.16% number as a preliminary tax increase, in a report to Council on December 16, 2019, based on the best information available at that time. View the entire Proposed Five-Year Financial Plan 2020–2024 (PDF).

At the recent budget meeting on January 28, 2020, staff noted that this information had been updated, and the requested increase was now 5.48%. Council have yet to approve any increase, and staff will continue to refine the proposed tax rate increase as new information becomes available. A report with tax rate options will be presented for Council’s consideration on February 24, 2020.


What's in the proposed 2020 budget?

The 2020 proposed budget includes:

  • A proposed tax increase of 3.95%
  • An Asset Levy of 0.5%, and
  • A new Climate Levy of 1%

…for a total of 5.45%.

Mayor Mary Ann Booth helps explains the 2020 proposed budget:

Read the Mayor's Update


What is new this year?

This year, we are incorporating natural asset maintenance and climate action emergency response into the budget.

The budget will include projects to greatly lower the greenhouse gas emissions from both District operations and in the community, as well as climate change response projects such as tree canopy studies, storm water and foreshore management projects, wildfire protection and stream rehabilitation.

Learn more about West Vancouver’s Natural Assets


Budget information meetings

Thank you to everyone that attended a budget information meeting. Meetings took place on January 28, 29 and 30.

All questions asked at the information meetings and staff responses are featured in the Feedback tab below and as PDFs here:

Budget Information Meetings Presentation


BC Property Assessment

The average assessed value of residential properties in West Vancouver went down by 14.8%, from $2.9 million in 2019 to $2.5 million in 2020.

You can see the changes in the assessed value of residential properties in West Vancouver on an interactive heatmap:

2020 Assessment Change Heat Map

Additional information about the assessment of residential properties can be found on the BC Assessment website:

BC Assessment - Frequently Asked Questions


CLOSED: This discussion has concluded.

  • Under Council Priorities for 2019-2020 - the Municipal Services section states that DWV will review current services to see if any there can be a reduction, elimination or way of improving delivery of services effectively. To the best of our knowledge, no detailed review of staffing levels, related service levels or any detailed review of other costs has recently been done. Why not share with residents?

    Bob408 asked 2 months ago

    Staff are currently undertaking a Core Services Review but it is not yet complete. It remains a Council priority underway. 

  • At page 70 of the proposed budget draft document, in terms of "2019 OPERATIONAL ACCOMPLISHMENTS", the "300 per cent increase in referrals to Restorative Justice (RJ) from 2018 that also addressed a greater variety in crime types" was noted. North Shore Restorative Justice Society provides these RJ services. We would like to know where in the 2020-2024 budget the increasing use of our RJ services to address DWV needs, divert youth and first time offenders from the criminal justice system and reduce recidivism is being addressed.

    Tina P. asked 2 months ago

    The District provides an operating grant to North Shore Restorative Justice of $15K each year. The District also contributes $3k per year to the “Day in Court” program.


  • 2020 budget revenue [ie charges to WV taxpayers] for (property tax+utilities) compared to 2014 is up 45.2%; inflation (CPI) from 31Dec2019 until 31Dec2019 is up 11.2% 2020 budget property tax (DWV only) up 39.8% since 2014. From 2014 until 2020 budget utilities billed to WV taxpayers is up 56.4%; and has increased from 32% of (property tax+utilities) in 2014 to 35% in the 2020 budget. ie a shift away from property taxes to fees for water, sewer, garbage etc. And so when analyzing how much the DWV charges its taxpayers, property taxes plus utilities must be combined in order to get a true picture. 2020 budget (property tax+utilities) charges to all WV taxpayers over 2019 budget (2029 actual not yet available) is a 6.4% increase and inflation in 2019 was 2.2%. This equals 4.2% real increase in charges to WV taxpayers for basics. Population and housing units relatively constant since 2014 (in fact declining according to our Mayor). The dollar amounts are all derived from past Annual reports and 5 year financial plans taken from the DWV website. In 2014 actual property taxes + Utilities billed to WV taxpayers was $84.8 million. In 2018 (note 12 annual report) that amount was $109.7 million and 2020 budget it is $123.1 million. Note 12 in the 2018 annual reports amounts were reconciled to prior annual reports and reconciled to 2018, 2019 and 2020 5 year plans. Please explain and justify why DWV needs to charge WV taxpayers 45% more for property taxes plus utilities in 2020 than 2014 when the inflation during this time was only 11.2%. I suspect that many WV taxpayers will say: "no way my property taxes did not increase that much from 2014 until 2019". Likely a true statement if their assessments were less than or around the average assessed value during this time. I believe, though, during this time assessments for "higher assessed houses" in total increase signficantly faster than the average and hence this drastic increase in the total property tax+utilities paid by WV residents was disproportionally paid for by taxpayers who owned higher than average assessed value homes. And the actual amounts charged by the DWV was masked by the rising assessed values. Please see a screen shot of the spreadsheet for more details. Does not attach, but I can email if you want / need it. cjensen@cjman.com

    CJ asked 2 months ago

    Water and Sewer & Drainage Utilities’ rates include a base charge and a volume/consumption charge. Depending on each household’s usage, the amount charged will vary. 

    In addition, the Water and Sewer & Drainage Utilities also have assets that need to be maintained and the rates include capital investment for this infrastructure. 

    The Sewer & Drainage Utilities includes a regional levy flow-through charge from Metro Vancouver and for construction of the North Shore Wastewater Treatment Plant. 

    The rates have increased over the past several years to account for the capital cost of this new treatment plant.For more information, please see the Sewer and Drainage Utility Fee Bylaw Council Report.

  • I would like to identify and ask a question in 3 areas that if focused on, could provide better quality of life, more affordable accommodations, and additional revenues for future budgets. Firstly, the enforcement of the British Columbia Motor Vehicle Act, with the associated penalties would not only make West Vancouver a safer community to live in , but also provide additional revenues to support policing costs. Judging by the deteriorating driving habits witnessed in Metro Vancouver and West Vancouver, additional enforcement officers would more than pay for themselves. I am assuming a fair share of revenue derived from driving penalties is paid back to West Vancouver from the Province of B.C. So why does West Vancouver not invest in more policing forces ? Secondly strengthening and more vigorous enforcement of the bylaws associated with the proliferation of BnB rentals in West Vancouver should be considered. Not only could more rental units be freed up for aspiring residents, but also additional revenues could be generated by enforcing violations associated with rental bylaws in West Vancouver. Does West Vancouver have plans to ensure the rental market is not disrupted by BnB activity ? Thirdly , Given the exorbitant cost of land in West Vancouver, why has West Vancouver not followed the same policy as the City of Vancouver in allowing for rezoning of 99% of the city's low-density, single-family (RS) neighbourhoods to allow for duplexes ? It would provide the opportunity for a wider spectrum of family income levels to have the opportunity of living in West Vancouver instead of commuting from some other area of Metro Vancouver. Presumably the tax base for West Vancouver increase. Many family units do not require the size of home that is associated with a typical West Vancouver property, yet desire a single family lifestyle in a modestly sized home.

    2 months ago

    To your first question, the B.C. government transfers 100 percent of net revenues from traffic violations to municipalities that are directly responsible for paying for policing as a grant. Transfer grant amounts are based on a municipality’s policing costs relative to the total policing costs paid by all municipalities. This grant provides municipalities additional funds to support community safety and address local policing priorities. In 2019, we received $0.71 million for this grant.

    To your second point regarding bylaw enforcement of short term rentals, we thank you for your comment and will pass your input on to Council.

    Regarding zoning for housing, this is very much a priority for Council. Council adopted the current Official Community Plan in 2018 after extensive community input. The plan acknowledges that West Vancouver has one of the highest housing costs and lowest vacancy rates in the region. In 2019, Council set a number of strategic goals with respect to increasing housing options in our community. 

    Thank you for your comments on this important topic - all input will be provided to Council.

  • The 6.11% increase is well above the 1.9% rate of inflation for 2019 and the 1.5% inflation rate used by Staff in the their Budget assumptions. It follows a trend of the last few years where increases have also been above the rate of inflation. While the Mayor and Council tell us they are concerned re housing affordability, increasing taxes well beyond the rate of inflation hurts affordability.

    Bob asked 2 months ago

    Thank you for your feedback. All input will be provided to Council.

    Mayor Booth has addressed some of your points in this letter to the Editor: West Vancouver's proposed budget is open for public input


  • I do not support your recommended increase in property taxes of 6%. Homeowners are being inundated with tax increases which are making homes less affordable. Mayor and Council have an obligation to keep tax increases no higher than the rate of inflation. Finding savings without cutting services in such a huge budget should be easy to achieve by just working harder and being more efficient as the Private Sector does every single day!!!

    Politics asked 2 months ago

    Thank you for your comments – your feedback will be provided to Council.

  • The property tax increase increase for West Vancouver is outrageous. It should be no more than the rate of inflation. Or less because it has grown so much prior to 2020. Reduce excess municipal staff levels especially in areas like communication, heritage, arborists, etc. Keep people who do real work like fixing roads.

    McKinney asked 2 months ago

    Thank you for your feedback. All input will be provided to Council.

    Mayor Booth has addressed some of your points in this letter to the Editor: West Vancouver's proposed budget is open for public input


  • Good Afternoon I will try to be concise hoping that the message will be read and well considered. First of all I am requesting more time for people to read previous financial reports and make their mind re the budget, you don't leave enough time for working class, busy running around to earn enough to survive here. Second - you have to learn to live from money you have and NOT to increase taxes for people or you face further downgrade of this beautiful city. Instead of brining young people, like current mayor promised there is reverse process. If you want to have three expensive offices in North Shore to govern population of about 500k you have to learn to spend less, otherwise people will go on the street one day to demand big changes. Thirdly - the transit it this city is very poor, another reason young people will not come to live here. We live at 3131 Deer Ridge Drive, there is lots of construction here, population growing, getting very old, no one with kids come to live here as it is famous for not having even local bus, maybe once every one hour at least, there is school, high rises, townhouses and detached houses and people going to ski at Cypress but not a single means of transportation. This is ridiculous, sorry for the strong words but we are from Europe where city cars are everywhere to help people, specially youth and seniors to move around. I am going to press that issue also for the sake of environmental issue, please see how many cars are there every single day as this is the only way to move there. We pay lots of taxes, there are many seniors and not a single bus to go to Park Royal at least. I do not agree with increase of wages, beyond regular 2-3% inflation level, did we not learn this from government. The only new positions should be for people who actively work for community and make it more vibrant and user friendly, all of us will agree with new bus drivers.

    Peter Lipski asked 2 months ago

    Thank you for your comment – your feedback will be provided to Council.

  • Please repair the Larson Bay Tennis Court. Thank you. James & Eileen Wright 6090 Blink Bonnie Road West Vancouver, BC V7W 1V8 604-240-8948

    James Wright asked 2 months ago

     Th Larson Bay Park tennis court will be commissioned as a result of a lengthy consideration process.

    The September 18, 2017 Council report titled “Asset Management Update Report” detailed the Larson Bay tennis court as a poor-condition and low-use asset. The report stated that feedback from the community consultation, undertaken in the fall of 2016, indicated that the retention of the tennis court was desired by the local community.

    Prior to the September 18, 2017 Council meeting, the Council report was reviewed by the District’s Finance Committee. In this review, the Finance Committee recommended, in a covering memo to the Council report, that Larson Bay tennis court be decommissioned. This recommendation in the District’s Finance Committee memo was subsequently incorporated into the “Asset Management Update Report” and approved by Council at the September 18, 2017 meeting.

    Decommissioning was scheduled in 2019.

    Staff and Council received a petition requesting reconsideration of the decision and that staff meet with local residents. At the community-organized meeting at the court, staff informed the residents that the District would evaluate next steps.

    On November 5, 2019, Staff provided a verbal update to the Finance Committee on the Larson Bay tennis court and that local residents had requested that the decision be revisited. The Finance Committee moved and Seconded that the original decision to decommission the Larson Bay Tennis Court be upheld.


  • Question asked at the January 30 budget information meeting: In terms of property taxes, the proposed increase is 5.48% and the utility rate increase is 5.99%?

    2 months ago

    The property tax rates and the utility rates are separate. The utility rates have already been set by Council.

  • Question asked at the January 30 budget information meeting: Are two of the new hires self-funded?

    2 months ago

    One of the new FTEs is self funded. However, there are a number of employees that are only hired because their salary is offset by revenues.

  • Question asked at the January 30 budget information meeting: Approximately $1 million dollars in the budget will go toward 10 additional staff. Why not wait until the new Chief Administrative Officer arrives and let him/her take a look at the need for these extra people?

    2 months ago

    The initial request was for 10 FTE, but after review, the request was reduced to 8 FTEs. Three FTEs are for Planning & Development Services - two senior planners and one commercial plan reviewer. There are two local area plans coming up and a big push from the community to safeguard our heritage assets. There are over 200 houses on the heritage asset registry and we’re losing them.

    Two FTEs were requested for trails staff to work on heavily used trails as trail use is the most popular form of exercise and outdoor enjoyment for residents. One FTE is for a business manager for Planning & Development Services and Corporate Services. This will be a shared resource between the two divisions. The remaining two FTEs are for the Police, one for the community services team, and one is a privacy analyst to handle increasingly complex Freedom of Information requests.

    A new Chief Administrative Officer will arrive this summer, but it will take that person some time to settle into the position. We have professional staff who have put together a proposed budget based on critical item requests and Council objectives. We have very defined work plans, council deliverables, corporate deliverables, and divisional deliverables, which are reviewed monthly.

  • Question asked at the January 30 budget information meeting: My observation is that we have lots of special interest groups that either complain or make demands, but you don’t see people getting together to solve problems. How different would our community be if we got together and solved some problems for everyone in the community?

    2 months ago

    Thank you for your comment – your feedback will be provided to Council.

  • Question asked at the January 30 budget information meeting: Is West Vancouver’s population decreasing?

    2 months ago

    The population has decreased by about 400 people. West Vancouver doesn’t have any industry, which means that 93% of taxes are paid by residents and 7% by businesses. It should be noted that over 50% of your taxes go to other taxing authorities.

  • Question asked at the January 30 budget information meeting: I work with a cycling organization and know that TransLink will fund trail connectors to public transit routes. When there is funding available for things, like the Hugo Ray connector, are the grants that come from other levels of government accounted for in the budget?

    2 months ago

    Yes, we apply for grants continuously and it requires a lot of staff time.

  • Question asked at the January 30 budget information meeting: Outside of the public sector, the private sector is taking away the defined benefit plans. Why should you have what we don’t have?

    2 months ago

    Its part of the conditions of employment, and a key factor in getting people, especially credentialed professionals, to work in the public sector. After all, there are no bonuses, no stock options, no perks, and very little in the way of recognition for this work. Many dedicated staff have come to the public sector because they genuinely wish to be of service – it’s certainly not to make money.

  • Question asked at the January 30 budget information meeting: Funding for defined benefit pension plans, how are we doing on that?

    2 months ago

    District employees are member of the Province –wide Municipal Pension Plan. All of the liabilities for this plan are appropriately funded. An actuarial valuation to ensure that the viability of the Plan is maintained is done every three years (reviewed every year). More information on the Plan is available in the notes to the municipal financial statements in the Annual Report:

     https://westvancouver.ca/sites/default/files/dwv/assets/gov/docs/financial-reports/annual-reports/2018AnnualReport-Final.pdf

    and on the pension plan’s website:

    https://mpp.pensionsbc.ca/municipal-pension-plan


  • Question asked at the January 30 budget information meeting: There is a section of the community, who can’t afford to pay taxes anymore. Why is 20% of the budget for the climate emergency?

    2 months ago

    In fact, all of the budget will be shifted as much as possible to respond to the climate emergency which Council has declared. This does not necessarily mean that costs will keep rising, as many energy-saving measures taken to reduce GHG emission also lower future operations and maintenance costs. An example is the replacement of the windows and improvement of the HVAC system at District Hall, which will reduce green house gas emissions by more than 90% while also reducing operational costs due to reduced utility use.

  • Question asked at the January 30 budget information meeting: The District is the only provider – you don’t have any competition. If you were a business, you would have to be competitive.

    2 months ago

    Municipalities are competitive in the sense that each offers a different level of amenities and services, which results in different levels of taxation. People then make decisions about where they wish to live partly based on the availability of these levels of service. West Vancouver enjoys a high level of service, in a very spread out area, which is geographically very spectacular, but also very challenging to service with roads and pipes, as well as fire and police. With no industry, many parks, and enhanced waterfront access, all of this makes it a very desirable place to live, which is reflected in the property values, but it also means that all of the costs to provide these services fall onto the residential property owners.

    The District is a $300 million dollar corporation providing services such as Planning and Development, Police, Fire and Rescue Services, Library Services, Human Resources and Payroll, Financial Services, Engineering and Transportation. Over the last number of years, we have looked at areas where we can cut, without cutting services. If you feel that services need to be cut, we encourage you to make your points known to Council, tell them what services you don’t want.

  • Question asked at the January 30 budget information meeting: It sounds like everybody here has either worked at or owned a company and they don’t understand the concept of public service.

    2 months ago

    The District is a provider of services.

  • Question asked at the January 30 budget information meeting: Shouldn’t you lobby the Province on West Vancouver’s behalf?

    2 months ago

    We are doing exactly that, but West Vancouver is not considered a needy municipality. For instance, there is no large and obvious homeless population here as there is in some other municipalities. There are significant needs across the region that the Province is trying to address. Although we have a significant portion of our population that is on a fixed income, the median income in West Vancouver is high compared to the rest of the region.

  • Question asked at the January 30 budget information meeting: The Speculation and Vacancy Tax (SVT) funds that went to the Province, is any of that coming back to West Vancouver?

    2 months ago

    Mayor and Council have met with the Province twice, and we’ve lobbied through the Union of BC Municipalities and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities to make the case that some of this funding should come back to West Vancouver. The Chief Administrative Officers around the region have also put together a pitch to the Province. The Province, for their part, have put the SVT into a special housing-related fund, and are in the process of setting out how this fund can be accessed. So far, they appear to be taking a regional approach, which might mean that West Vancouver has to compete with all of the other municipalities in the region for these funds.

  • Question asked at the January 30 budget information meeting: Do Community Amenity Contributions (CACs) come to West Vancouver?

    2 months ago

    CACs are contributions by developers, and come to West Vancouver as part of development projects. West Vancouver has a very low level of these projects compared to other municipalities in the Lower mainland. Also, CAC’s don’t impact your property taxes, and cannot be used for maintenance. They are specifically related to the development projects which produce them, and are to improve amenities in the community. In the proposed budget detail online, it shows which projects have been funded by CACs. CACs can’t be used for operations, they can only be used for amenities. We currently have less than $10 million in CACs and the ability to get more CACs is tied to development.

  • Question asked at the January 30 budget information meeting: There was a survey that people were able to pay a little bit more in tax. But there is a huge deferred maintenance issue and I understand that taxes are going up because of that. There are different perspectives around the municipality. My experience is that when you do across the board cuts, it ends up hurting the organizations that do them.

    2 months ago

    Senior staff review the budget all the time. We do this to try to maximize the resources we have, to meet the ever increasing needs. These needs are driven by the complexity and diversity of the services we are expected to provide, not by the number of residents consuming them. In fact, District of West Vancouver residents consume and expect a very high level of service.

    We look for every possible source of revenue, but we limited in what we can do. Other communities use things like casinos and pay parking to supplement taxes; these have been studied in West Vancouver, but there is no support for a casino, and pay parking would end up costing money if West Vancouver residents were exempt. As West Vancouver residents do not support paying for parking for themselves, this option hasn’t been pursued.

    We have instituted doing a do a cash flow analysis on a weekly basis, so that we are able to maximize investment returns and eliminate idle cash. Doing this, we have doubled our returns on invested capital, earning more than $!M incrementally. We’re squeezing every last drop, but we operate under serious constraints, legislative and otherwise. For instance, we negotiated a new staff benefits package which saved $700,000 on our staff overhead, only to have the province institute the Employer Health Tax (EHT) at an additional cost of $1.5M. The EHT hits West Vancouver District particularly hard because we have our own Police force; municipalities (such as the City and District of North Vancouver)  using the RCMP for policing do not pay EHT for their police, because the RCMP are Federal employees who cannot be taxed by the Province.

    In addition to our daily monitoring, every year we go through the budget line by line and look at labour and non-labour costs. This is challenging to do for 100+ kinds of services, but we do find cost efficiencies, and we incorporate them everywhere we find them. It is this type of review that has led to the focus on deferred maintenance, because underinvestment is asset maintenance drives up operating costs.

  • Question asked at the January 30 budget information meeting: Everyone sitting here is on a fixed income. You’ve reached the point that you can’t get any more blood out of these residents.

    2 months ago

    Thank you for your comment – your feedback will be provided to Council.

  • Question asked at the January 30 budget information meeting: Have you tried getting rid of assets?

    2 months ago

    Every time we try to divest an asset, there is a group of community residents that don’t want to get rid of that particular asset. It’s very similar to the issue with services. Everyone thinks that some other asset, on the other side of town that they do not use, is the one that could be divested.

  • Question asked at the January 30 budget information meeting: When was the last time you asked the residents what services they want?

    2 months ago

    We did that survey approximately two years ago. The problem is that the seniors say we don’t need a youth centre, and the youth say we don’t need a seniors’ centre, the sports groups say we need sports fields and the arts groups say we don’t sports fields, we need arts facilities and so on.

  • Question asked at the January 30 budget information meeting: You could cut 10 staff and residents wouldn’t see any change in levels of service.

    2 months ago

    Unfortunately, that is not the case. We are in 115 different lines of service, and the services we provide are also very diverse – no sensible business would go into this many lines of business. We manage everything from animal control to zero waste initiatives .and are also expected to take on additional things all the time, ranging from dealing with climate change impacts in the community to removing racist land covenants from land titles. So are staff are very busy, and we constantly seek ways to make efficiencies, just to keep our heads above water, so to speak.

    Also, the idea that has been raised that staff could just be transferred around is erroneous. We cannot transfer staff, as some have suggested, because all of these services are specialized. For instance, we cannot take members of the Police force and transfer them to Fire Services, or vice versa, much less take the public works crew and move them to Fire or Police. We cannot take staff from Finance and move them to road maintenance or building inspection, or vice versa. We cannot take people from legislative services and move them to IT. Virtually all of our staff are credentialed specialists – the days of a municipal crew of a bunch of people standing by a ditch with shovels are long gone. In fact, these days you cannot even dig a ditch, in a municipal road, without knowing exactly what you are doing, or you will be in serious trouble almost immediately. Conclusion: We cannot cut staff without reducing service. Which service would you like cut?

  • Question asked at the January 30 budget information meeting: I have reviewed the Annual Reports and the Five-Year Financial Plans over the past few years, note 12, property taxes and fees in terms of revenue. In 1974, the total was 84 million, in 2018 it was a 38% increase.

    2 months ago

    1974 was almost 50 years ago, and the world was a very different place. No one had even heard of computers, much less cell phones or the internet ( and therefore, of course, no one was paying for these services). Prices for commodities like gasoline were only a few cents per gallon. Almost any cost you could look at was very different; for instance, in 1974 a very nice house in West Vancouver could be obtained for between $40,000 and $60,000. It is therefore not very surprising that costs and taxes have risen between 1974 and 2020.

    Also, for many years, West Vancouver paid very little attention to its capital assets. They didn’t prioritize them and they didn’t do an inventory. It wasn’t managed the way you would manage a business. We had a number of years where no upgrades were done. This is catching up to us now, and at a certain point, you have to acknowledge that you have to take care of the assets. This municipality is doing that, and is now very well positioned in asset management terms. However, this does mean that costs are higher.

  • Question asked at the January 30 budget information meeting: When the real estate market went down, did you lay off people?

    2 months ago

    No, we lost people. We have constant attrition because employees would like to work closer to where they live. Most of our employees can’t afford to live in West Vancouver.

  • Question asked at the January 30 budget information meeting: Have you done the exercise where you have cut staff?

    2 months ago

    We did that a few years ago, and we ended up cutting capital. We have employees that are only employed if there is cost recovery. Police and Fire we can’t be fluid on. Finance, Payroll and HR are constant daily activities. We have looked at the positions and moved employees.

  • Question asked at the January 30 budget information meeting: Cutting your budget by 10% is a good exercise, but the biggest shock to an organization is when staff start getting cut.

    2 months ago

    On average over the last 6 years, the tax rate increase has gone up 1.6%. Going through the budget line by line is an exercise that the whole organization has been taken through over the past 7 years.

  • Question asked at the January 30 budget information meeting: Many residents in West Vancouver are on fixed incomes and do not understand why they’re paying more taxes every year. I was told that 80% of the budget goes to staff. Why have you not looked at the budget and cut staff?

    2 months ago

    In the private sector one of your key drivers is profit. In the public sector, it’s not about profit, it’s about the maximum use of resources as efficiently as possible. 83% of our operating budget is labour. We provide services and you need people to do so. We can’t cut union staff so easily due to the collective agreements. Our employees are paid at the 60th percentile relative to other Metro municipalities. We now have the Employer Health Tax which costs us $1.5 million. Every month, the staff complement list is reviewed and consideration is given to each position – is it required or could that work be shifted around. We lose employees through attrition or employees moving closer to their homes. When an employee leaves, a five-person approval process is undertaken to determine if we need to replace them. We also do a Fire Underwriters Survey every five years, which means that your home insurance is less relative to the Fire & Rescue coverage and the water available to you.

  • Question asked at the January 30 budget information meeting: Is the budget cast in concrete or is there room for changes to the budget?

    2 months ago

    Council hasn’t made any decisions on the budget yet. We’re here to present a proposed budget, to answer your questions and to gather feedback.

  • Question asked at the January 29 budget information meeting: We recently moved to West Vancouver, and we see the oil tankers coming in and out of the harbour with cancer-causing exhaust being expelled from the tankers. Is there anything the District can do to restrict them?

    2 months ago

    The municipality doesn’t have the power to restrict harbour traffic as that would fall under the jurisdiction of the federal government. However, the Port of Vancouver is doing a lot relative to the natural environment and green house gas emission issues. There is a North Shore Ports community liaison group that we can put you in touch with, who may be able to bring this issue to the attention of the Port authorities, and get more information on what the Port is doing to preserve local air quality.

  • Question asked at the January 29 budget information meeting: I am a West Vancouver resident and I represent a group called Community Skateboarding. I would like to volunteer to do things within the community, such as recycling, community gardens, and maintenance of the skate park. How do you champion the smaller community initiatives?

    2 months ago

    We have hundreds of volunteers that want to give of their time to West Vancouver initiatives. Interested volunteers can contact Nina Leemhuis, Chief Administrative Officer or Anne Mooi, Director, Parks, Culture & Community Services to learn more about volunteer opportunities.

  • Question asked at the January 29 budget information meeting: Why don’t you put a hotel where Klee Wyck is located?

    2 months ago

    Klee Wyck is located in the middle of a residential area, and the traffic generated by hotel patrons would be difficult to manage.  On the other hand, Ambleside is a desirable location for a hotel, and once the local area plan for Ambleside is complete, a hotel may be considered for that location.

  • Question asked at the January 29 budget information meeting: Although West Vancouver’s population is decreasing, there are so many new homes, how do the new homes impact the budget?

    2 months ago

    The new homes don’t increase tax revenue; they change the share of what people pay in property taxes. You may have heard that the cost per capita is higher in West Vancouver. This is because our tax base is mostly residential. West Vancouver has no density and no industry, so the cost of services is shared among the residents.

  • Question asked at the January 29 budget information meeting: The proposed tax rate increase is 5.48% for West Vancouver, and the City of Vancouver proposed a tax rate increase of 8%, can you provide a perspective on how West Vancouver compares to other municipalities in terms of increases?

    2 months ago

    We can’t make that comparison. Each municipality has different priorities. West Vancouver is prioritizing asset management and natural assets, while Vancouver has very targeted programs for addressing social issues. However, we’re seeing tax rate increases between 3% and 7% across the region.

  • Question asked at the January 29 budget information meeting: It seems as though a decision has been made to move to tertiary treatment, do you know who is paying for this?

    2 months ago

    Discussions are taking place between different levels of government, and no decision about Federal or Provincial contributions has yet been made. However, we are anticipating increases to both regional water and regional sewer costs in the future.

  • Question asked at the January 29 budget information meeting: Is the increase in the sewer utility due to the new North Shore Wastewater Treatment Plant?

    2 months ago

    Yes, almost all of the increase is due to the increased requisition from the region for the construction of the new plant.

  • Question asked at the January 29 budget information meeting: Why is the cost of solid waste disposal decreasing?

    2 months ago

    The cost of solid waste disposal is going down because manufacturers are taking on the cost and responsibility of recycling their own packaging. The recycling pickup will continue as usual, but it will now be paid for by the producer responsibility group.

  • Question asked at the January 29 budget information meeting: Could more staff be employed to work on the issue of communications with the community?

    2 months ago

    Communications used to be decentralized across the organization. It was not coordinated, and we had staff in many areas doing many different things. We have now centralized all of the communications function, but there is a lot going on in the community, so we have to make decisions about which key messages need to be communicated to the community. The communications department would love to have more staff, but it’s really about prioritizing and getting the right message out.

  • Question asked at the January 29 budget information meeting: I live next to Navvy Jack Park, and we were promised improvements would be made to the park.

    2 months ago

    The work hasn’t started yet on improvements to Navvy Jack Park.

  • Question asked at the January 29 budget information meeting: In the 2018 Statement of Financial Information Act report, the base salary for five directors were identical, why is that?

    2 months ago

    All of the salaries are compared across Metro and six other municipalities. The divisional directors across the municipalities have similar levels of responsibility. A director, such as the Director of Parks, Culture & Community Services, who has a higher number of staff to manage may make a slightly higher salary. It should be noted that the Parks, Culture and Community Services portfolio is a very large portfolio and has significant offsetting revenues. Salaries are reviewed every two years.

  • Question asked at the January 29 budget information meeting: In 2011, we wanted to purchase a neighbouring property with a road that was to be decommissioned, but it took two years to get through the process with the District. Have you improved this process?

    2 months ago

    In 2011, the process was difficult, but we have made a lot of improvements since then. Municipal land sales must follow specific legislative requirements that can be difficult and slow at times, but we have done our best to streamline the process.

  • Question asked at the January 29 budget information meeting: Much effort goes into communicating with residents, but the message comes across wrong when you ask residents what they think, fail to follow up on the communication and then decommission an asset (such as the Larson Bay tennis court).

    2 months ago

    We have reviewed the engagement and communications process related to the Larson Bay tennis courts. The input from residents was compiled and presented to the Finance Committee, however we did not appropriately close the loop with residents. We will be bringing the Larson Bay tennis court engagement and communication issue to the Community Engagement Committee and will be making every effort to communicate better in future, particularly where assets are being considered for decommissioning.

  • Question asked at the January 29 budget information meeting: Many councillors are trying to make the community more inclusive, but I believe we’re actually making it more exclusive. People in their 30s and 40s can no longer afford to live here.

    2 months ago

    Thank you for your comment – your feedback will be provided to Council.

  • Question asked at the January 29 budget information meeting: A huge portion of the budget is going to salaries, have you considered a hiring freeze or reworking job descriptions? You should get rid of more assets so that you don’t have to maintain them.

    2 months ago

    The District is a $300 million dollar corporation providing services such as Planning and Development, Police, Fire and Rescue Services, Library Services, Human Resources and Payroll, Financial Services, Engineering and Transportation and we must employ professional staff to provide those services to the community. Our employees are not paid the top rate in the municipal world; they are paid at the 60th percentile relative to other Metro municipalities. If we can’t pay our employees what other municipal employees make, then we lose them to other municipalities.

    Another challenge we face, is that very few of our employees can afford to live in West Vancouver; our employees live everywhere east and north of here.

    As for shedding assets, we would encourage you to attend Council meetings where we try to eliminate assets, because we don’t often hear from the portion of the community that may have a more fiscally-prudent point of view. We have eliminated assets such as the Lawson Creek studios and caretaker residences in some parks, but there are residents that want to keep low use, poor condition the assets.

  • Question asked at the January 29 budget information meeting: The Municipal Hall seismic upgrade project was originally projected to cost $6 million, why are the costs now at $21 million?

    2 months ago

    The Municipal Hall is over 50 years old, with many building systems at end of useful life, and has not had any major renovations.  It needs to be modernized and upgraded to current building and fire codes for life safety, seismic performance and energy efficiency.  This is a multi-year project which will be phased over a number of years.  Phase 1 is underway and provides for seismic upgrades and a new code-compliant elevator large enough for medical stretchers.  The seismic upgrades are essential given the role of Municipal Hall in providing business continuity to the community after a major seismic event.  The second phase will include building envelope upgrades (including roof, windows and exterior wall systems), heating, ventilation and cooling (HVAC) and other mechanical equipment.  Phase 2 will result in significant energy efficiency improvements and major reductions in greenhouse gases.  The third phase has not yet been designed, and would provide interior space reconfigurations, air circulation ducting, wiring, lighting and plumbing upgrades (including fire sprinklers) to modernize the interior and achieve space efficiencies.  The cost of the seismic upgrades is approximately $6.85M which increased due to factors including cost escalation and a shortage of trades regionally.  The budget for phase 2 is $6.35M.  The design for phase 3 has not yet been prepared and so detailed costing and a phasing schedule has not yet been finalized.  Once the project is completed, the Municipal Hall will continue to serve the community for decades.

  • Question asked at the January 29 budget information meeting: Larco is putting in a 96 seat daycare across the street, will it be exempt from property taxes?

    2 months ago

    For profit daycares are not exempt from paying property taxes.

  • Question asked at the January 29 budget information meeting: Will the daycare be required to pay property taxes?

    2 months ago

    Property owned by the District receives an exemption from property taxes and the daycare, which will be run under contract by a not-for-profit provider, would be eligible for an exemption.

  • Question asked at the January 29 budget information meeting: The District has over $1 billion dollars worth of assets and is not decommissioning enough assets. The District accepted $6 million from a developer for a daycare, but have you considered the cost of taking on that new asset?

    2 months ago

    As soon as an asset is acquired, maintenance costs are incurred immediately. When community groups approach the District with proposals to build or provide new community assets, we request that they follow the steps outlined in the Framework for Evaluating Community Group Proposals for New, Upgraded or Enhanced Facilities, Infrastructure and Equipment. By following these steps, the community can be assured that we are looking at the full cost of potentially acquiring the asset and that a transparent process is being followed.

    In the past, municipalities didn’t account for their assets with the same approach as the private sector. There was no coordinated or prioritized approach to maintaining our assets. The District was by no means alone in this; governments in general have only recently woken up to the need for infrastructure maintenance, and the infrastructure deficit in Canada as a whole is estimated at many billions of dollars.

    Over the last five years, West Vancouver has totally changed its approach to asset management, and it now has a rigorous asset management program in place, with facilities professionals and dedicated funding (the asset levy). Greening the budget will have higher up front costs, but we will reduce our operating costs and our GHG emissions.

  • Question asked at the January 29 budget information meeting: When people defer their taxes, does the District have use of those funds?

    2 months ago

    The Property Tax Deferment Program is a low-interest provincial loan program designed to help qualified home owners pay their annual property taxes. The Province pays the District and then the Province registers a lien against the property.

  • Question asked at the January 29 budget information meeting: Why are there increased costs for chlorine at the pool – I thought ozone filtration was being used for water treatment?

    2 months ago

    The Aquatic Centre uses ozone in addition to chlorine. The dual system requires less chlorine and disinfects the lap and leisure pools and the two hot tubs more effectively than chlorine alone. Reducing chlorine levels provides excellent water quality, clarity and air quality, and lessens chances of skin, eye and lung irritation. The increase in chlorine costs is due to converting from a gas chlorine system to a liquid chlorine system as it is safer to use and store the chemical.

  • Question asked at the January 28 budget information meeting: What is the total budget for West Vancouver?

    2 months ago

    The chart below displays the total budget figures for West Vancouver:


  • Question asked at the January 28 budget information meeting: Should West Vancouver residents complain to the School Board or Province about the taxes that are collected for other taxing authorities?

    2 months ago

    In the past, the funds collected from West Vancouver for the school tax would be provided to West Vancouver schools. If that were still the case, then the School Board would be the body to address in respect of the school taxes. However, about 15 years ago, the Province started collecting school tax directly, and currently, the school tax goes to the province and they distribute it to the school districts based on a formula. This means the local school district has really no influence on what is collected. This applies to the ‘regular’ school tax. In 2018, the Province also put a new “Additional School Tax” in place, applied to homes valued at over $3 million. Because the Province did not specifically legislate that this money was to go to schools, it is simply general revenue. Any comments about this tax need to be directed to the Province, as neither the municipality nor the school district have any say in setting this tax.

  • Question asked at the January 28 budget information meeting: Where is the proposed funding for the deferred maintenance coming from?

    2 months ago

    Staff are proposing to borrow $5.5 million from the Endowment Fund to replace the assets, and then by maintaining them at the optimal leveI, we can reduce maintenance costs.

  • Question asked at the January 28 budget information meeting: Who provides the responses to the forum questions?

    2 months ago

    The responses are provided by Finance staff in connection with other divisions as required.

  • Question asked at the January 28 budget information meeting: The Mayor keeps telling us our population is declining, shouldn’t we see a decrease in FTEs?

    2 months ago

    As explained above, the level of services provided to the community doesn’t decrease as the population decreases. In addition, West Vancouver residents want to be consulted on what is going in their community and that requires staff time.

  • Question asked at the January 28 budget information meeting: How has the Employer Health Tax (EHT) affected the budget?

    2 months ago

    The EHT has added more than $1 million to our costs. Even though MSP premiums were eliminated, this did not reduce costs by much, as in many cases, these were being paid in whole or in part by the employees, not the employer. Also, EHT applies to every payment made to employees, including overtime, and this is not the case with other amounts like pension and CPP.

  • Question asked at the January 28 budget information meeting: Shouldn’t the District consider a hiring freeze?

    2 months ago

    There is a natural attrition process. Efficiencies are difficult to find when the District delivers so many services, and has no mandate to reduce them. Also, in terms of making business processes more efficient, the District has underinvested in technology in the past, which makes our processes very labour-intensive.

  • Question asked at the January 28 budget information meeting: Have you considered a salary freeze for District of West Vancouver employees?

    2 months ago

    It’s not possible to freeze wages with union employees, because by law they must be paid the negotiated contract increases. For professional and management employees, we currently have a tough time obtaining and keeping employees as most can’t afford to live in the community and aren’t willing to commute to West Vancouver. We try to find efficiencies in the wage sector, for instance by managing our employee health benefit costs to a high degree, but most of the savings we were making in this area were wiped out by the imposition by the province of the Employer Health Tax (EHT). West Vancouver gets hit particularly hard by this tax, as it must be paid on all the members of the police force. In jurisdictions where policing is supplied under contract with the RCMP, EHT is not payable on the police members because they are federal employees.

  • Question asked at the January 28 budget information meeting: Are West Vancouver employees within the 2% cost of living increase guidelines for the Province?

    2 months ago

    Each collective agreement is a little bit different. Police and Fire have their own comparators, and all municipalities are bound by these. Rates for other unionized staff are also determined regionally.

  • Question asked at the January 28 budget information meeting: Why is the per capita spending in West Vancouver so high?

    2 months ago

    West Vancouver has about 5.5 people per hectare, making it one of the least densely populated communities in the Lower Mainland. It consists mostly of single detached dwellings spread out on large lots, many on cul-de-sacs, many on mountainous terrain. To supply services like roads, water pipes, sewer pipes, police coverage and fire coverage is very expensive, and, with very few people occupying those houses, the per capita costs are high. West Vancouver residents also enjoy over 140 parks, a seawall walk, two first-class recreation centres, a seniors’ centre, and a first-class library, and there is no indication or reason to believe that the residents want or will accept a lower level of service just because the community is shrinking. In addition, there is a misperception that a house which is not occupied, either permanently, or for part of a year, is not absorbing any services. This is not correct, in fact, empty houses create more issues for services like policing, because they attract criminal activity such as burglary, and this drives up per capita costs. It should also be noted that the tax burden in West Vancouver is borne mainly by residents (93%); there is no industry or significant commercial or office properties in our community to share the tax burden.

  • Question asked at the January 28 budget information meeting: Have you looked at cost reduction in the salaries?

    2 months ago

    Staff go through the staff complement listing on a quarterly basis and perform salary reviews on a biannual basis. The salaries are benchmarked to salaries in the region, and we know that West Vancouver is currently only paying at 60% of the Metro regional average. However, due to the very high cost of housing on the North Shore, and the high cost of commuting to and from the North Shore if you do not live here, we know we are losing out in the competition for municipal employees, who prefer to work closer to where they live. Also, we have five unions and five collective agreements and we support over 100 services, so reducing salaries and/or number of employees can only be done by reducing services.

  • Question asked at the January 28 budget information meeting: Are you looking at cost savings?

    2 months ago

    Staff are always looking for savings. We review every purchasing decision to ensure that we get value for money, and we are constantly looking for ways to deliver better service. We review every position each year, and when any vacancies occur. We are confident that the staff we have now are those needed to deliver the current levels of service.

  • Question asked at the January 28 budget information meeting: How much did permit revenue go down last year?

    2 months ago

    Permit revenue decreased $2.1 million from 2018 to 2019, and we have estimated that it will be $0.5 million in 2020 from the 2019 budget.

  • Question asked at the January 28 budget information meeting: The proposed loan for deferred maintenance of $5.5 million is going to have interest charged. Why would you pay interest to yourself?

    2 months ago

    We have a capital budget breakdown with the proposed projects available in the budget book online. In terms of interest, the interest is reinvested in the Endowment Fund. We want to keep the Fund whole. We could take the money out of the Endowment Fund and repay it without interest but the Fund wouldn’t be in the same shape.

  • Question asked at the January 28 budget information meeting: You are proposing to borrow $5.5 million, will you put the money towards buildings only? Aside from facilities, transportation is the largest item on the 20-year maintenance graph.

    2 months ago

    There is deferred maintenance across all of the types of assets, but they are most prevalent in the facilities area, because for many years, municipalities did not do a very good job of building maintenance, and, in some cases, kept using facilities that others would long ago have abandoned or replaced. However, facilities are not the only assets where deferred maintenance is a problem, as some of the roads are also in need of more timely maintenance.

  • Question asked at the January 28 budget information meeting: Are you creating a slush fund for a climate emergency (1% levy)?

    2 months ago

    There is no such thing as a slush fund in the budget. Every amount in the budget is there to fund a specific purpose. The request for the 1% additional asset levy is to respond to Council’s declaration of a climate emergency, which means moving as aggressively as possible towards meeting the GHG emissions reductions targets set out in the endorsed Community and Corporate Energy Emission Plans (CEEPs).

    These plans are available here:

    https://westvancouver.ca/government/bylaws-strategies-reports/strategies-plans/community-energy-and-emissions-plan

    https://westvancouver.ca/sites/default/files/dwv/assets/gov/docs/Reports/WEST_VANCOUVER_CORPORATE_ENERGY_%26_EMISSIONS_PLAN.pdf

      In order to meet corporate targets for reductions, the District must improve the emissions performance of its fleet and its buildings, and this means spending more money up front. If we use the existing asset levy to do this, it will make the deferred maintenance problem worse, so staff have asked for an additional 1% rather than tapping into the maintenance funds.

  • Question asked at the January 28 budget information meeting: Could you borrow the funds needed for the deferred maintenance today and pay less interest when interest rates are low? If this maintenance gets deferred to next year the costs will grow.

    2 months ago

    Borrowing is an option. We would have to build in a debt levy and do that before we can borrow. Another solution, which staff is proposing, is to use internal funds so that we can provide more flexibility, which may include paying little or no interest on the funds, and repaying them on a more flexible schedule.

  • Question asked at the January 28 budget information meeting: If the solution to the deferred maintenance is $13.8 million, and if this is a priority expenditure, wouldn’t taking the funds from 2195 Gordon be a better solution?

    2 months ago

    The District purchased the land for $16.4 million and the property is going to be used to address some social aspects of housing in the community. We are talking about long term leasing the land so that the District can do something else with that land in the future when the lease has expired. Council have considered many options in coming forward with the current plans for the site, and this is the one they are proposing.

  • Question asked at the January 28 budget information meeting: How much of the asset levy goes toward the assets?

    2 months ago

    All of the asset levy goes into maintaining the assets, none of it is used to pay operational costs. There is a relationship, however, in that new assets may operate better, more energy-efficiently, and at lower cost. As staff look at greening the budget by replacing older assets with more efficient ones, operational cost savings are one of the results which will be sought and can be expected.

  • Question asked at the January 28 budget information meeting: Would $55 million fill the deferment hole?

    2 months ago

    Deferred maintenance occurs because at the time that asset maintenance investments should have been made to maintain optimal performance, this was not done. It builds up over time, to the point where continued maintenance may be more costly than simply replacing the asset. The deferred maintenance calculation of $13.8 million is the amount that will need to be spent to keep depreciated assets going. Staff believe that with a smaller investment of $5.5M, we could get ourselves out of this situation by buying new assets.

  • Question asked at the January 28 budget information meeting: If we’ve been paying our taxes, why were the assets allowed to get so bad?

    2 months ago

    The public sector wasn’t planning forward with the same approach as the private sector. There were no facilities experts working for municipalities, and there was no coordinated or prioritized approach to accounting for or maintaining the assets. Property taxes were kept low by cutting the amount devoted to asset maintenance, and this seemed like a reasonable idea given that there was no data being collected on the assets to quantify the infrastructure deficit and the required maintenance. The District was by no means alone in this; governments in general have only recently woken up to the need for infrastructure maintenance, and the infrastructure deficit in Canada as a whole is estimated at many billions of dollars. Over the last five years, West Vancouver has totally changed its approach to asset management, and it now has a rigorous asset management program in place, with dedicated funding (the asset levy). We can be great stewards of our assets going forward. There are going to be some tough decisions coming up. West Vancouver is spread out over a large area and we have too many assets to look after.

  • Question asked at the January 28 budget information meeting: Can you give us some examples of what is included in the deferred maintenance?

    2 months ago

    The Youth Centre, which had a structural failure and needs to be replaced, various buildings on the Ambleside waterfront, the Municipal Hall building, which is more than 50 years old and is currently in the process of a seismic upgrade, Fire Hall #1, adjacent to District Hall, which is also being seismically upgraded, the civic centre, which contains the ice arena which is almost 60 years old, along with public washrooms and the concession stand in Ambleside Park. Also, the roads in general have been under-maintained and many of them are deteriorating.

  • Question asked at the January 28 budget information meeting: Is water and sewer all under Metro?

    2 months ago

    The water and sewer mains are regional and municipal water and sewer hooks into it. Drinking water is purchased in bulk from Metro Vancouver, but West Vancouver has two water treatment plants that provide almost half of West Vancouver’s drinking water.

  • Question asked at the January 28 budget information meeting: What is transportation infrastructure?

    2 months ago

    Roads, bridges, etc.

  • Question asked at the January 28 budget information meeting: What is the total value of West Vancouver residential properties?

    2 months ago

    Based on the current data, the total value for all class 1 properties (excluding mixed use properties) is $41,850,462,130.

  • Question asked at the January 28 budget information meeting: Can you explain how much assessments have gone down in West Vancouver?

    2 months ago

    Assessments are down 14.8% on average.

  • Question asked at the January 28 budget information meeting: How many properties in West Vancouver have tax deferment?

    2 months ago

    Approximately 2,400 properties have deferred their taxes. (345 new + 2058 renewal = 2403 total)

  • Question asked at the January 28 budget information meeting: In reference to slide 6, (slide with bar chart related to property tax shifts) is the number of properties in each of the steps the same as it was before and what is the average rate of decline in each of the steps?

    2 months ago

    There’s a noticeable shift in the number of properties from higher “steps” (assessed value categories) to lower “steps”. The table below illustrates the changes by showing the number of properties per category and changes from 2019 (excluding properties added/removed from the roll).

    Step

    2019

    2020

    Change

    Step 1

    4046

    5520

    1474

    Step 2

    1626

    2747

    1121

    Step 3

    2687

    2378

    -309

    Step 4

    2488

    1769

    -719

    Step 5

    1805

    1475

    -330

    Step 6

    1282

    983

    -299

    Step 7

    2601

    1663

    -938

    Grand Total

    16535

    16535

    The next table shows the change in assessed value by “step” from 2019 to 2020, reflecting both the shift of properties between steps and the changes in the assessed value of remaining properties. It also shows the changes of total municipal tax payable by all properties within a “step” – from 2019 to 2020 (estimates, excl. incremental 2020 tax). The changes in tax payable are much lower than the changes in total assessed value because tax rates are adjusted from year to year to account for the average change in the assessed property value.

    Step

    2019 Assessed Value

    2020 Assessed Value

    YoY  Change in Value

    YoY  Change in Tax

    Step 1

    $6,788,801,030

    $5,848,275,930

    -14%

    0%

    Step 2

    $6,289,359,600

    $5,247,321,600

    -17%

    -3%

    Step 3

    $6,383,542,900

    $5,425,109,700

    -15%

    -1%

    Step 4

    $5,690,644,600

    $4,861,898,300

    -15%

    -1%

    Step 5

    $5,682,321,800

    $4,829,344,700

    -15%

    -1%

    Step 6

    $4,530,899,700

    $3,859,603,800

    -15%

    -1%

    Step 7

    $13,160,706,000

    $11,778,908,100

    -10%

    4%

    Grand Total

    $48,526,275,630

    $41,850,462,130

    -14%

    0%

  • Question asked at the January 28 budget information meeting: Does the District want to raise taxes by 6.1%?

    2 months ago

    A preliminary proposed tax rate increase of 6.1% was put forward to Council in December. Staff have since then reduced the proposed tax rate increase to 5.48%.

  • WE HAVE A COMMUNITY WHOSE POPULATION IS NOT GROWING; IF WE TAKE INTO ACCOUNT THE NUMBER OF VACANT HOUSES THE POPULATION IS DECREASING. WE LIKELY HAVE AN AGING POPULATION WITH AN INCREASING PROPORTION BEING RETIRED. AND OUR TAXES ARE INCREASING. THIS IS AS CLOSE TO A DEFINITION OF AN UNSUSTAINABLE COMMUNITY AS YOU CAN GET. THE EXPLANATION GIVEN BY COUNCIL/ADMINISTRATION JUST DOESN'T HOLD WATER; DENSITY, NO INDUSTRY, ETC. WHY NOT GET GREATER DENSITY BY DENSIFICATION IN EXISTING DEVELOPED AREAS INSTEAD OF BUILDING UP THE MOUNTAIN AND WORSENING THE PROBLEM ? WHY NOT ATTRACT INDUSTRY ? WE DON'T EVEN HAVE A HOTEL ! SAYING THE STAFFING COSTS ARE DETERMINED BY AGREEMENTS IS A COP-OUT; WHO AGREED TO THESE AGREEMENTS ? STAFFING COSTS NEED TO BE GOT UNDER CONTROL. MY RECOMMENDATION : FOR THIS YEAR AND FUTURE YEARS REDUCE THE TAX INCREASES TO THE INFLATION LEVEL AS A MAXIMUM, UNTIL THERE IS A PLAN IN PLACE TO MAKE WEST VANCOUVER A SUSTAINABLE COMMUNITY

    T. FIELD asked 2 months ago

    Thank you for your comments. All input will be provided to Council.

  • I also support the budget proposal as a prudent investment in our present and future services. It is vital that we look after our assets (people, infrastructure, cultural, and nature) for our long-term benefit. the addition of the Natural Assets to our budget is a true representation of their role - we must look after our environment.

    Charlotte McLaughlin asked 2 months ago

    Thank you for your comments. All input will be provided to Council.

  • What are Mayor and Council doing specifically to share in nearly $40 million of WV property taxes that have been usurped by the Province of BC. $32 million was paid by 5,651 West Van residents in additional 2019 School (Wealth) Tax on homes valued $3+ million to Province of BC. $6.6 million was paid by West Van residents in 2018 Speculation and Vacancy Taxes (Mayor says 1,700 empty homes in West Van) to Province of BC. None of this nearly $40 million benefit West Van. Property Taxes were the exclusive responsibility and domain of municipalities up to 2018. But the Mayor and Council have written a letter and had 1 meeting with the Province of BC on this issue in 2 years with no results. Is it because of the very close relationship that the Mayor has with the NDP Minister of Finance? PS - my earlier question on this revenue opportunity was not answered.

    Bob408 asked 2 months ago

    Mayor and Council have on ongoing dialogue with the Province on the topic of taxes coming from West Vancouver versus the amount coming back to West Vancouver. Our local elected officials do communicate regularly with the Province, and, for the Speculation and Vacancy Tax (SVT) in particular, the Province has indicated that the funds will be available for supportive housing. Whether West Vancouver obtains any of these funds remains to be seen, as the Province appears to be working on a regional strategy, but the Mayor and Council are working with the Province on this.

  • Why does West Vancouver have the highest per capita spending of any Municipality in the Lower Mainland. 2018 Municipal Spending compared by the Fraser Institute in 2018. (note that DWV includes Transit costs reimbursed by TransLink). Residents strive to live within their means. The District of West Vancouver needs to "lead by example" and do the same.

    Bob asked 2 months ago

    West Vancouver has high per capita spending for a number of reasons.  The level of staff and the level of taxation in West Vancouver are directly tied to the level of service. We are a service industry, and one of the things people love about our community is the high level of service provided here. The factors that drive costs in our community are:

    Density – We are largely a community of large single-family lots. The cost of a length of road or a pipe is the same whether it serves twenty households, four households or one. The costs of these services become much less per capita as development becomes denser. It may be less obvious, but the same costing principle applies to Police and Fire protection, parks, and event planning. A low-density community creates high costs per capita. And, with an average of less than five residents per hectare, West Vancouver is one of the least densely populated municipalities in the lower mainland.

    Lack of Industry – There is no industry in West Vancouver to share operating and infrastructure renewal costs. Ninety-three per cent of the tax burden falls to residents and the remaining seven per cent to small business. In most other municipalities, the proportion of municipal costs borne by residents is much smaller due to the diversity of the tax base. Residents can share the costs with corporate offices and industry, to name a few.

    Geography – In addition to being spread out, West Vancouver has some of the most challenging geography in the lower mainland. Building up a mountain or down to a beachfront is more costly per meter that it is to build in a flat community like Delta. Our residents love the natural beauty and geography of our community, but it is more costly to service.

    Age of Infrastructure - West Vancouver is over 100 years old, and our infrastructure is aging. Unlike many other municipalities in the Lower Mainland, we have not had much new development, and the benefit of development is having the developers pay for infrastructure replacement. West Vancouver’s tax base is mostly residential, with very little business and no industry. Without development or industry, the burden of infrastructure replacement falls to residents.

    Level of Services - West Vancouver does spend more per capita but also provides very high-quality community centres, sports programs, the library, the Seawalk, and more than 100 other parks. Many of these amenities are equal to, or better than, what much larger communities such as Richmond, Burnaby, and even City of Vancouver provide. Our residents value these higher levels of service, but they do cost money. There are also costs that we often don’t think about. To provide our own Blue Bus, the municipality invests human resources, legal, communications, and administrative costs that are not reimbursed by TransLink. And, providing our own police force is more expensive than using the RCMP. 

  • What are Mayor and Council doing to collect property taxes that were the responsibility and domain of municipalities up to 2018? $32 million was paid by 5,651 West Van residents in additional 2019 School Taxes on homes valued $3+ million to Province of BC. $6.6 million was paid by West Van residents in 2018 Speculation and Vacancy Taxes to Province of BC. - the Mayor says 1,700 empty homes in West Van

    Bob408 asked 2 months ago

    The total amount of the property tax bill includes amounts collected on behalf of other taxing authorities (provincial schools, Translink, regional district). Approximately 55% of the tax bill is for those other taxing authorities and the remainder of the tax bill, 45% is for municipal tax.

    The taxes that the District collects on behalf of other taxing authorities such as the school tax and the speculation and vacancy tax are remitted to the Province. In 2019, the District remitted $93 million to other taxing authorities. The District does not have control on the use of these funds.

    The municipal tax collected from residents is to find District services that range from protective services, road infrastructure, environmental protection and recreation items (parks, playgrounds and trails).  In 2019, the District collected $74 million to pay for municipal services.

    The table below shows the property tax allocation between other taxing authorities and the District.

  • Climate Response: 1% of the tax increase is a negative approach to addressing climate change. But there are no specifics in the budget. Why can't this funding be found in the existing budget? Many individuals are doing their bit to help address climate change. It is said that WV has the highest number of electric cars.

    Bob408 asked 2 months ago

    While many individuals are changing their lifestyles to become more eco-friendly, the District has a responsibility to address environmental challenges to protect this community’s resources such as trees, the foreshore, wildlife and streams. Projects that the District are engaged in or would like to do include tree canopy studies, storm water and foreshore management projects, wildfire protection and stream rehabilitation.

    The existing capital budget is already allocated to maintaining the current suite of District assets and typically green initiatives require some upfront capital investment.

    For 2020, the capital budget has included a new classification of projects to support Community Energy & Emissions Planning. The 1% for natural capital / climate response levy is to fund for those projects. Please see the Proposed Five-Year Financial Plan 2020-2024 document for further details.

  • Why does it take 5 business days for staff to respond to any questions ? Are all questions answered and posted back on this webpage? Why is the Feb 2 deadline set in less than 10 days when Council won't vote until end of March?

    Bob408 asked 2 months ago

    The length of time it takes to respond depends on the question. Staff endeavor to respond as quickly as possible but also need to ensure answers are properly researched and reviewed.

    All questions and comments will be posted on this web page.

    The deadline for online input is February 2. Input collected here will be compiled with input collected and the public information meetings on January 28, 29 & 30. Staff will then develop an analysis of public input for Council to review.In addition, the Finance Committee reviews the budget and staff incorporate their recommendations into the report to Council. The draft budget may be revised between the close of public input and Council's vote. Staff's goal is to make the final document available for public review 10 days prior to Council's vote.

  • HOW DOES THE PUBLIC KNOW what the BUDGET REALLY is? transparency? This is just a publicity "THANG" so that W.Van has public PROOF and JUSTIFICATION of their 'doings' are OK. really? so simple? ...

    Dirk Marwig asked 3 months ago

    In British Columbia, municipalities are required to prepare a budget in accordance with provincial regulations and must undergo public consultation to provide residents with an opportunity to review, comment and pose questions regarding the budget.  

    The purpose of the budget is to fund the services delivered to residents. Services range from protective services (Fire and Police Departments) to drinking water and sewer systems, to environmental protection and playgrounds. The budget is the estimate of how much it will cost to deliver these services to West Vancouver residents for the year. Some services are legislatively required, and some are at Council's direction.

    Most of these services to the community are delivered by staff. Staff wages are determined according to the collective agreement, and one of the factors considered in wage rates is the cost of living. In West Vancouver, wages are reviewed against the market and set at approximately 60% of all lower mainland municipal salaries.

    The services that the District provides are not all funded by the tax levy. The District also earns revenue from fees for certain services such as development and permits. However, this revenue is susceptible to external influences such as the housing market. 

    For 2020, the District anticipates that the housing market will be relatively flat, therefore decreasing the revenue that we can expect to earn. This revenue shortfall needs to be made up, first, by other sources of revenue, next, by reducing expenses where possible, and finally, by adjusting the tax levy funding. The proposed budget reflects these estimates for the coming year.

    There are also cost pressures that the District cannot control. Increases to utilities such as electricity and gas rates, and contractual escalations based on maintenance/licensing agreements all impact the cost of services. These increases are not tied to inflation. The District does its best to mitigate these increases and reallocate within the operating budget to fund for these.

    Since 2016, the total tax rate includes an asset levy. In 2020, the proposed increase includes a new climate response levy of 1% in addition to an asset levy of 0.5% and a proposed tax increase of 3.95%.

    Details of anticipated revenues and expenditures are outlined in the proposed budget for the community to review, and we welcome your comments.

  • Why does Staff want to add 10 new staff (3.5 FTE development planning, a business manager, trail maintenance and policing) at a cost of nearly $1 million per year when the Mayor tells that WV's population is declining or unchanged? Why not re-allocate staff from less required activities?

    Bob asked 2 months ago

    Eight (not 10) new FTE positions are requested in order to resource Council's goals and objectives. Staff providing other services cannot be reallocated unless Council directs that the services they are providing are no longer needed. The details of the FTE requests are as follows

    Trails Plan - Two FTEs are requested to create an additional trail crew of skilled carpentry staff that will complete trail improvements consisting of replacing and/or repairing failing trails and trail structures such as foot bridges, boardwalks, stairs, and drainage infrastructure. Plan for Trails on Public Lands recommends additional resources be allocated to trail improvements with a priority for trails that provide high levels of connectivity.

    Senior Planner - One FTE would add capacity to undertake Local Area Plans (LAPs), but is not sufficient in itself to complete that work alone. Generally, a team of 4+ FTEs is needed to complete a LAP.  Horseshoe Bay LAP currently has about 1.5 FTEs allocated to it, so is under-resourced. In the near term, it is expected that this additional FTE would help staff complete Horseshoe Bay on a more timely basis, and would set the District up to focus on Ambleside on the second half of this Council term. Also, the current limited staff resources dedicated to do the Horseshoe Bay LAP could be impacted by other existing work (such as an extended term for the Neighbourhood Character WG, or because of a series of climate-related directions, etc.) – so this new FTE would add capacity to either focus on LAPs or to allow existing staff to focus on other Council initiatives related to  2019-20 priorities (e.g. DPAs) and priorities for 2021-22 (Taylor Way, Land Use Contracts, etc.).

    Community Planner - this request would provide a 0.5 FTE dedicated to heritage planning initiatives including heritage development projects, management of the Heritage Advisory Committee, and implementation of the policy and planning framework described in the policy report approved by Council "Preventing Heritage Demolitions". The remaining 0.5 FTE would be dedicated to working on development projects and would primarily work on projects that would achieve Council's OCP objective to deliver "missing middle" housing. This would help deal with the existing workload where the District is currently very under-resourced.

    Business Manager, Corporate Services & Planning & Development Services - This resource is requested to provide financial advisory services, coordinating and participating in the District's financial planning cycle, helping departmental managers develop their operating and capital budgets to work programs, tracking expenditures and budgets, and increasing financial reporting functions. Currently the support is provided by Finance at a minimal level and there is a further need for financial advice and analysis in these two divisions. The position would report directly to the Deputy CAO and Director of Planning & Development Services.

    Police 1st Class Constable - This position will work with new arrivals to Canada and include general work on crime prevention through environmental design and behaviour.

    Commercial Plan Reviewer - This request would increase the complement of Level 3 plan checkers for large and complex building permit applications for multi-family and commercial development. The resource is required to manage existing workload and meet industry expectations for reasonable permit turn-around times.

    Police Privacy Analyst - this position would be dedicated to handling Freedom of Information requests.

  • independent Auditor-General? Toronto has saved $300 million over the past five years because of an independent Auditor-General. Vancouver City Council approves $500,000 for a new Auditor General's office to find savings in city spending. Would this work for West Van if she/he reported to directly to Council and perhaps shared costs with City and District of North Van?

    Bob408 asked 2 months ago

    The City of Vancouver is not the same as the District of West Vancouver. The City operates under its own Charter, while West Vancouver operates under the Local Government Act.

    As part of this structure, The District of West Vancouver (and the City and District of North Vancouver) has an auditor thought the Auditor General for Local Government (https://www.aglg.ca/).

    The District of West Vancouver currently benefits from cost sharing with its North Shore neighbouring municipalities by sharing an emergency management office. The three fire departments also have a shared service agreement that allows for economies of scale for recruitment and purchasing, as well as emergency response.

  • It appears there is a 25% increase in planning and development from last year. I do not support the new hires and in general I would like to see less urgency on development in West Van. Over the past 7 years, the area around park royal and most of Ambleside has become so congested and busy with traffic/construction that my family has stopped going there (it's a construction zone, no parking, ridiculously busy). It has also brought in quite a bit more theft and crime to that area. The development happening does not benefit the actual families that live here. It seems to focus more on making 'destinations' for tourists and helping developers make as much profit as possible at the expense of residents. I do not support a budget increase for the planning/Development dept.

    Martin WV asked 2 months ago

    Thank you very much for your comments. All input will be provided to Council.

  • Please advise which new sidewalks have been planned and budgeted in 2020. Good to know any revisions to the timing of the rest of the sidewalks. We need to put greater priority on this in particular connecting neighbourhoods to schools. I am also interested in a sidewalk down 27th to connect to the 260 bus stop on Marine. 27th is a bus route.

    Lulujack asked 2 months ago

    The budget for transportation upgrades hasn't been approved yet, but the plan for 2020 includes priorities that were identified in the Pedestrian Network Study, and two additional locations that will be designed if budget permits.

    Design, consultation and construction:
    • 2400 block Kings Avenue (Irwin Park Elementary)
    • 1100 and 1200 blocks of 13th Street (Kings Ave to Inglewood Ave, near Ridgeview Elementary)
    Design and consultation:
    • 4400 block Marine Drive (near Cypress Park Elementary)
    • 2100 block Mathers Avenue (near Pauline Johnson Elementary)
    27th Street is also noted in the Pedestrian Network Study as part of the future pedestrian network, but was identified as a lower priority than other locations in the District.

  • I support the budget proposal as a prudent investment in our present and future services. It is vital that we look after our assets (people, infrastructure, cultural) for our longterm benefit.

    HT asked 2 months ago

    Thank you very much for your comments. All input will be provided to Council.

  • My tax bill increased irresponsibly by 45% last year. I hope that apartment owners see a reversal of this crazy input and receive a rebate. I also hope that council recognize that senior citizen taxpayers should be exempt from such frivolous action and the wealthy support the district from their ample funds.

    jhpwestvan asked 3 months ago

    Thank you for your comments. While we cannot provide an accurate explanation without your property address, we can say that your tax bill last year was influenced by a number of factors other than the tax rate. If your property assessment increased on average with other properties in the community, it would not increase your share of taxes. If your assessment increased more than the average, that could have had an impact. A new, significant impact last year was the provincial government's additional school tax. This new tax, and other levies by other provincial agencies, are not controlled by the municipality, although they could make up more than half of your property tax notice. If you would like to know exactly where your 2019 tax bill increased, we would be happy to provide that information. Email us your questions and property address to communications@westvancouver.ca and we will respond to you privately.

    We would also like to mention that senior citizens have the option of deferring their taxes by way of a provincial program. Here's a link for more information on deferring your taxes: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/taxes/property-taxes/annual-property-tax/defer-taxes

  • Unfortunately I will not be able to attend any of the meetings , a few comments on expenses and revenue. Revenue Policing .Being a commuter to downtown, the number of drivers on Taylor way each morning on their devices is frightening . Start ticketing everyday for a month and see how much revenue is generated in addition to making the roads safer . Revenue Ambelside Pay Parking . Start with a survey during the summer months to determine who actually lives in West Van that park there . I suspect it is less than 50 % . Issue residents an annual parking pass free with proof of residence to be picked up at City Hall. Why should we as residents pay for others to use this Outstanding asset . Paying for parking in parks is unfortunately a necessity to maintain them . Expenses Staffing at Community Centers ... my observation , over the top , do we really need 3 Janitors at Gleneagles? Expenses West Van has the shiniest fleet of service vehicles I have ever seen . A review should be done Expenses Buses . The only route I am very familiar with is 253 . A full sized bus that I have never seen more than 15 people on at once. There must be Transit experts that would like to save money or is there ? I suspect there are other routes in West Van that would fall into this category . Hope someone actually reads this , Mike Turner , 4015 Bayridge Ave , West Van.

    Mike Turner asked 2 months ago

    Thank you for taking the time to provide your comments. All input will be provided to Council.