Mayor Mike Little expressed concerns over the budget and its potential over-commitment to projects. |North Shore News files

District of North Vancouver council has all but locked in the 2023 budget, bringing with it a higher-than-usual tax increase and more spending on infrastructure.

The plan will bring about a 5.25 per cent tax increase, resulting in a municipal tax bill about $131 higher than last year’s for a home assessed at the district average.

Initially the sum had been lower, but momentous public input from the community compelled council to reassess their budget earlier this month, altering it to include the addition of long-promised artificial turf fields and the creation of the Spirit Trail to Deep Cove. Under the reassessed budget, $35 million has been allocated to active transportation, while $25 million will go towards the fields.

Mayor Mike Little expressed concerns regarding the budget’s over-commitment to projects, explaining the tax increase proposed would be the largest the district has seen in over two decades.

“We worked very hard in the last decade to reduce our debt, and in this five-year plan, we’re committing to tripling our debt,” he said, adding how capital debt is expected to rise from $30 million to $90 million.

However, he said the total level of indebtedness was “manageable,” especially given the projects now included represent the priorities of the community.

There was push back from some councillors who argued that the budget, despite being revised to accommodate it, didn’t pay enough attention to the active transportation plan.

Coun. Catherine Pope pushed for an amendment that would see $3 million dollars taken from the turf budget and given to the active transportation budget, at the expense of one gravel to turf conversion.

“I feel that, somehow, in this final version, all of the public input we heard surrounding active transportation was not included. So many of these active transportation projects that were previously listed as deferred, are still deferred,” she said. “Our community has told us over and over and over again that this is what they want. In my opinion it is irresponsible to leave it out of the budget.”

Coun. Lisa Muri said it felt as though the proposal for a funding shift was being brought forward at the “eleventh hour,” following discussions that had already been had in weeks previous amid “furor” from the community.

It was a sentiment echoed by Coun. Betty Forbes, who argued there had already been enough discussion on the budget in previous workshops, and it was too far down the line to be making such amendments.

Pope’s amendment passed, 6-1 with Forbes opposed.

By Mina Kerr-Lazenby, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Mar 30, 2023

This item reprinted with permission from   North Shore News   North Vancouver, British Columbia
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