The Province: Daphne Bramham: Openness and public debate goes a long way to increasing citizens’ understanding

October 18, 2022
Greg D'Avignon


For a decade before COVID-19, property taxes across Metro Vancouver municipalities increased at rates higher than both population growth and inflation, according to a Business Council of B.C. report released earlier this month. This “steeply rising burden on households and businesses, and escalating constraint on private-sector economic activity” is magnified because unlike federal and provincial taxes, property taxes are paid with after-tax income.

Vancouver exercised “the least fiscal restraint” of any municipality in the province, has the largest debt burden and between 2009 and 2019 added $1,400 a year to the average household’s costs.

Even before money was spent on replacing the RCMP, Surrey’s municipal spending was above the Metro average, having increased by 20.3 per cent.

For mayors and councils who want to signal change to the discontented voters who elected them, here’s a suggestion. Start with a little sunshine. Be transparent about how decisions are made — even in Surrey or perhaps especially right now in Surrey.

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