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CVRD expected to lower tax increase after tax revolt at budget meeting

Increase for 2024 now in the 16% range, down from 19.33%

The anticipated tax increase for property owners in the Cowichan Valley Regional District is back down to about 16.3 per cent from the 19.33 per cent that was being considered for 2024 after a tax revolt at the district office on Feb. 28 that drew about 200 protesters.

The board had decided in a tight vote in a meeting on Feb. 8 to top up the regional parks acquisition fund to its maximum requisition of $2.5 million for the year, which drove the projected tax increase to more than 19 per cent.

But board members were informed that there were some procedural issues with the vote that required that it be taken again, and with tax protesters overflowing the board room at the meeting on Feb. 28, the board voted to drop the increase for parks acquisition to $958,000.


Cowichan Bay’s Lisa Lafrance, one of the protesters, said she’s not anti-government and is not usually one to rock the boat, but the proposed 19.33 per cent tax increase was too much for her to bear.

“I’m a retired person with no pension and I live on my savings so I have nothing left to give,” she said while gathered in the pouring rain with other protesters outside the CVRD headquarters on Ingram Street.

“It’s outrageous.”

Kate Mack, from Duncan, said other regional districts and municipalities in the region have much smaller tax increases than the CVRD this year, and she wonders how the CVRD can explain its proposal for such a large increase.

“They seem to have the lack of ability to pinch pennies and seem to be on a spending spree,” she said.

“I haven’t seen any transparency in the CVRD’s contracts. The CVRD’s staff are out of touch.”

Jackie Broughton presented the board with a petition with more than 3,000 signatures of CVRD residents who opposed the proposed 19.33 per cent tax increase.


She said may residents are suffering financially in ways that she’s not sure is really realized by those who are making the district’s financial decisions.

“Many are struggling to feed their families,” Broughton said.

“They’re in danger of losing their homes or have already been forced to leave the Cowichan Valley because of the rapidly increasing cost of living. A tax increase of 19.33 per cent is unreasonable, regardless of the priorities it represents.”

It’s unlikely the CVRD will see the tax increase for the year go much lower than 16 per cent as the district is facing steep financial increases in a number of areas, some of which are mandatory.

The draft budget for 2024 indicates that 8.53 per cent of the proposed tax increase is for the district’s core funding and supplementals, while 6.17 per cent of the increase is for regional recreation funding which is required, as well as a one per cent increase in funding for the Vancouver Island Regional Library and transit functions.

CVRD chair Aaron Stone pointed out that one major difference between the CVRD and other local governments around the province in regards to tax increases this year is the referendum on regional recreation that was held during the municipal election in 2022, which was approved by CVRD residents and accounts for 6.17 per cent of the budget this year.


“It’s not a decision of this board, it was the decision that the electors made in the last election that will be phased in over three years,” he said.

“Based on our present status (bringing the tax increase down to the 16 per cent range after lowering funding to regional parks acquisition, and if the 6.17 per cent for regional recreation were taken out) that takes our tax increase in this budget down to about the 10 or 11 per cent this year. We also made necessary investments in our solid waste complex and general government, including information technology functions and others.”

Stone also said senior levels of government are increasingly pushing local governments to take on more responsibilities outside of their core mandates of taking care of water, sewer and roads, which is driving up costs for the CVRD.

“We’re not properly set up to handle social issues and emergency management,” he said.

“We need our residents to say to senior levels of government that they’ve had enough (of downloading responsibilities onto local governments) and they can’t handle it anymore. At times like this, the federal and provincial governments can run a deficit for a year or two while the economy is not strong to mitigate the burden on taxpayers, while we can’t.”

The board is expected to vote on and adopt the budget for 2024 on March 13.

Robert Barron

About the Author: Robert Barron

Since 2016, I've had had the pleasure of working with our dedicated staff and community in the Cowichan Valley.
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