Installing more parking meters, quadrupling the price for a short-term rental licence and raising business licence fees by $79 are among recommendations Vancouver city staff has put forward to create $15.2 million in new revenues next year.
The purpose of the increases would be to offset an anticipated huge property tax hike in 2024.
In this case, the $15.2 million represents the equivalent of a 1.4 per cent increase in property tax, which is not a significant reduction on its own when faced with the reality of what council heard from staff in June.
Staff warned council that property taxes could be set at an average of nine per cent each year over the next five years, if the status quo of spending and generating revenue is not addressed this year.
A new report released Wednesday is a response to council’s request to have staff find ways for the city to make more money via non-property tax revenues.
Some of the recommended initiatives, which will go before council Sept. 13, include:
• Expansion of metered on-street parking to generate a projected $4.8 million in incremental revenues. (The report doesn’t identify which areas of the city would see the installation of more meters, with details to come before budget talks in December).
The report says more meters would “support improved management of on-street parking and ensure adequate parking turnover, increased parking availability and reduced congestion for residents and business patrons.”
• Residential parking permit fee: The report says the fee is currently priced below market levels (ranging from $52 to $104 annually for most permit zones). Recommended increases would range from $65 to $131, and generate $200,000.
• Park board parking: The park board is developing a strategy for parking within parks “with a focus on where pay parking would be beneficial.” The initiative would require approval by park board, and would generate $500,000.
• Short-term rental business licence fee increase from $109 to $450. This increase would generate $1 million.
The report says the $450 fee is not inconsistent with other municipalities and the additional revenue would address a current shortfall relative to the costs for the city’s short-term rental licensing and enforcement program.
• Standard business licence fee increase from $171 to $250. The report says the increase would align the fee more closely with other Metro Vancouver municipalities and generate $1.6 million in incremental revenues.
• Trades and contractors’ licence fees increase from $171 and $207 to $340. The report says the increase would align fees with larger municipalities such as Surrey, and will generate $900,000.
• Ride hailing: Staff says the fees are used as a lever to manage congestion and curb use associated with ride hailing during peak hours. The current service fee is $30 and the revised fee would increase to $45 in 2024 and $60 in 2025.
“A phased approach is recommended to monitor impacts on congestion and usage, and this initiative is expected to generate $2.9 million in incremental revenues in 2024 and $3 million in 2025,” the report said.
• Increase fee for commercial vehicle decal program, which staff says will improve curbside access for the delivery of goods and services. The current permit fee based on gross vehicle weight ranges from $27 to $43 and would increase to $50 and $150. The revised fee would generate approximately $1 million.
Development permit fees
Details on recommended increases to rezoning, development permit and building permit fees are not included in the report and will be subject of a separate report that will go before council later this year.
More details will also be provided in the coming months on fees related to business licences, vehicles for hire, utilities, engineering, permitting, park board, animal control and Mountain View cemetery.
Staff is also working on a plan to generate revenue through sponsorship, naming rights, advertising and donations. For 2024, staff expect to generate an additional $500,000 of revenue through increased advertising within the scope of existing contracts.
Over the years, the report said, residents and businesses via budget feedback exercises have expressed a preference for new or increased user fees for city services rather than an increase in property tax.
The report comes after the ABC Vancouver-dominated council approved a 10.7 per cent tax increase in February for 2023. At the time, Mayor Ken Sim told reporters that “tax increases of this magnitude cannot and will not become the norm” and that “tax increases like this” will not become a thing of the future.
In April, the mayor announced the creation of a task force with a mandate to review the city’s operating and capital budgets “with a fine-tooth comb” and recommend ways tax dollars can be spent “more efficiently and responsibly.”
Recommendations from the task force are expected in October.