West Shore trio hit hard by CRD tax increases

Sewage treatment, rail trail among the biggest contributors to hike for municipalities

Sewage treatment and other major regional projects are expected to drive up the Capital Regional District’s 2017 budget, which will translate to a double-digit tax hike for many West Shore residents.

The CRD board last week granted preliminary approval to a 2017 provisional budget of $221 million. That’s up $16.3 million from 2016, with sewage treatment credited as a major contributor to the increase.

Other major projects driving the increase include the continued development of the E&N Rail Trail – which runs through View Royal and Langford – affordable housing through the Regional Housing First Program and a unified 911 call answer and police dispatch centre.

Overall, CRD operating expenditures are projected to be reduced by $300,000 – roughly 0.2 per cent – from last year. Despite this modest decrease, View Royal Mayor David Screech said it’s important to remember that operating costs have gone down.

View Royal residents will absorb the West Shore’s largest increase at about $42 per year, or roughly 13 per cent, and Screech reiterated that is because of sewage treatment. “View Royal is in year four of incremental increases for that, which brings our residents closer to what they will (eventually) be paying.”

In light of that, he added, “municipal governments need to keep increases to a minimum.”

More than 200 service and sub-service budgets make up the 2017 Financial Plan.

Some of those departmental budgets were recommended through regional district standing committees, while sub-regional or local service commissions made recommendations on other aspects.

The CRD’s operating and capital expenditures, as well as those for the Capital Regional Hospital District and Capital Region Housing Corporation, are also included in the plan.

CRD contributions vary between municipalities and are dependent on what services to which they subscribe. The way individual municipalities charge property owners for those services also varies.

The 2017 Financial Plan will go back to the board for final approval by March of next year.

– With files from Rick Stiebel

katie@goldstreamgazette.com