Inflation was top of mind for many consumers in 2021.
Economic forecasts suggest prices will continue to rise in the new year.
So what can British Columbians expect to pay more — or less — for in 2022?
Food prices expected to rise
For many British Columbians, higher prices were most noticeable at the grocery store.
"You have to expect a continuation of the kind of food price inflation we had this past year," Richard Barichello, a professor at the University of British Columbia's Faculty of Land and Food Systems, said.
Barichello is one of several contributors to Canada's Food Price Report, which forecasts that Canadians will pay five to seven per cent more for food in 2022. According to the report, the average family of four will pay $14,767 per year for food, an increase of $966 from the year prior.
Barichello says global prices for agricultural commodities will affect Canadian consumers in addition to other factors, such as rising wages and supply chain challenges. He notes that the report was prepared prior to flooding in B.C.
He says consumers may choose to respond to soaring food costs by choosing generic products over brand-name items, and shopping at discount stores rather than full-service chains.
Consumers may also choose to avoid purchasing items, such as meat, that have seen the largest price increases.
Barichello notes that price forecasting is challenging. The last food reported projected meat prices would rise by 4.5 to 6.5 per cent in 2021. In mid-December, Statistics Canada reported that prices for fresh or frozen beef increased 15 per cent year over year in November.
The price of meat is projected to be relatively flat in 2022, but price spikes aren't out of the question, Barichello says.
"Certainly there's no relief yet in sight, although inflation — as a general phenomenon and being one of the underlying parts of the picture here — is forecast to gradually come back down. Some people think that will happen by the middle or the end of 2022," he said.
Property tax increases in Metro Vancouver
The City of Vancouver's budget includes a property tax increase of 6.35 per cent while the City of Surrey approved an average property tax increase of 2.9 per cent. Richmond will see property taxes rise by an average of 3.86 per cent and Coquitlam 3.43 per cent.
Rent freeze ends
At the beginning of the pandemic, the provincial government put a freeze on rent increases.
In September 2021, the B.C. government said the freeze would be lifted as of Dec. 31, allowing landlords to raise rents by as much as 1.5 per cent if they gave tenants a full three months' notice.
New fees for disposables in Vancouver
Coffee drinkers in Vancouver may be paying more for a cup of joe to-go if they don't bring a reusable mug. Starting Jan. 1, a charge of 25 cents will be imposed on disposable cups, with exceptions for charitable food services and hospitals.
Starting January 2022, businesses will be required to charge 25 cents for every disposable cup.
Plastic and compostable plastic shopping bags will be banned. A minimum charge of 15 cents will be applied to paper bags while reusable shopping bags will cost a minimum of $1.
The rules were set to go into effect at the beginning of 2021, but were delayed a year to give more time to businesses dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Lower B.C. Hydro bills
One small bit of good news: some British Columbians could see a smaller electricity bill in the new year.
B.C. Hydro asked the B.C. Utilities Commission to reduce rates by 1.4 per cent starting in April 2022. The Crown utility has also asked for a two per cent increase in 2023 and a 2.7 per cent increase in 2024. All told, rates will increase an average of 1.1 per cent over three years, if approved.
Higher FortisBC rates
FortisBC announced 3.47 per cent increase for electricity rates following BCUC approval. The average customer would expect their bill to go up by about $5.36 per month.
FortisBC also announced that gas bills for most residential customers will rise by around $8 a month.