Metro Vancouver passed a budget for 2022 that will see the average household pay an extra $21 for the regional portion of their property tax bill — but with much higher increases projected in future years.
"It is unlikely that Metro Vancouver residents will tolerate significant tax increases," said Metro Vancouver vice-chair Linda Buchanan.
"We simply have moved these costs into the future years."
The budget will see the average bill for water, waste and other services provided by the regional government go from $574 in 2021 to $595 next year, as part of a $1.107 billion operating budget.
The increase was $17 less than originally projected, but with major upgrades to wastewater treatment plants underway, that yearly figure is forecasted to rise to $952 in by 2026.
"I believe staff did make some progress in supporting our fiscal position ... but this progress must continue," said Buchanan.
Metro Vancouver is overseen by mayors and councillors from across the region, and while many of them voiced their concerns over the looming increases, the budget ended up passing unanimously, with pledges to find ways of lowering the tab in future years.
"Metro is us, we are Metro," said West Vancouver Mayor Mary-Ann Booth.
"Well if that's the case, we have to work together to solve some of these issues."
Industrial park proposal moves forward
Much of Metro Vancouver's monthly board meeting was taken up by discussion over a request by Surrey to change the region's urban containment boundary, intended to preserve agricultural and undeveloped areas.
"To me it comes down to a choice between employment and industrial lands, and protecting the natural areas," said Bowen Island councillor David Hocking.
For many years, Surrey has expressed a desire to rezone land next to the Campbell Heights industrial business park at the border between Surrey and Langley, to allow for more job opportunities in the area.
But the land falls outside the urban containment boundary, requiring a change approved by Metro Vancouver before any rezoning.
"I am really concerned about the environment … but I have full confidence in Surrey staff and Surrey council that they're doing due diligence in engagement," said Langley Township Mayor Jack Froese.
A number of environmental groups and the Semiahmoo First Nation Chief Harley Chappell spoke at the meeting in opposition to the plan, but ultimately Metro Vancouver voted in favour of the change, while requiring more comment from local First Nations before a final vote and decision.