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CVRD mulling 19.33% tax increase in 2024

Final budget expected to be adopted on Feb. 28
The board at the CVRD is considering a 19.33% tax increase in 2024. (Citizen file photo)

Taxpayers in the Cowichan Valley Regional District are now looking at a tax increase of 19.33 per cent in 2024.

The tax increase was in the range of 16 per cent until a recent meeting in which the board decided in a tight vote to top up the regional parks acquisition fund to its maximum requisition of $2.5 million for the year, which saw the proposed tax increase go up a further 3.39 per cent.

While acknowledging it’s a tough financial year for the CVRD and its taxpayers, a number of directors pointed out that the referendum held across the district in 2008 asking if residents wanted to see a regional parkland acquisition fund established to buy land to create parks and preserve wild places passed by more than 70 per cent.


They also said the parkland acquisition fund has been underfunded for a number of years, and it’s time the district direct appropriate funding to it.

Board chair Aaron Stone said he appreciates the financial challenges the CVRD is facing this year.

But he said the big increase to the parkland acquisition fund would allow the CVRD to build the reserves and the capability to not only be able to purchase lands that are special and important that would advance the district’s reconciliation goals with local First Nations, but would also help the community in terms of assisting ecosystems and biodiversity, and also recreation.

Lake Cowichan Mayor Tim McGonigle countered that it appears the CVRD has gone from dealing with a pandemic to a “financial-demic” and the board is adding to it at every opportunity.

“I understand the rationale of moving forward with this, but until the true regionalism of this (fund) can be identified, I can’t support this increase,” he said.


The CVRD was already facing steep financial increases in a number of areas this year, and 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, 6.17 per cent of the increase is for regional recreation funding and a one per cent increase in funding for the Vancouver Island Regional Library and transit functions.

North Cowichan mayor Rob Douglas said that, despite the financial pressures, the referendum on the parkland acquisition fund in 2008 was overwhelmingly supported by residents, and that support is still strong.

He said the district is facing increasing pressure on its natural lands and wildlife habitats through development and climate change.

“I recognize that residents are facing some real pressures right now in terms of cost of living, but all indications to date show our residents do support acquiring more parkland and would pay a bit extra if it would advance those goals,” Douglas said.

Cobble Hill director Mike Wilson said he supports purchasing parkland, but the extra costs to taxpayers at this time would financially hurt many residents in the CVRD.

“It may be very small to every single one us here sitting at this privileged table, but it’s not a small amount to a lot of people out there who are struggling to make ends meet,” he said.

The final adoption of the budget for 2024 is expected at the board meeting Feb. 28.

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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