West Kelowna  

West Kelowna councillor warns of higher taxes as road maintenance budget set to double

Roads a drain on city budget

"As a community, we have really benefited up to this date from low, low (tax) increases."

"I'm concerned how long we can keep that going."

Those comments from came from West Kelowna Coun. Jason Friesen as council deliberated expenditures around its 2023 municipal budget.

Friesen spoke specifically about the city's road rehabilitation program which, up until this year, has had a budget of $1.2 million.

Based on the pavement management plan, that budget is expected to increase to $2.4 million beginning in 2024.

"This figure alone the pavement management plan next year...it's a three per cent tax increase just for that alone next year," said Friesen.

"As a municipality, we will continue to dwindle on these reserves and eventually have nothing left. We will have no choice but to tax.

"Three per cent just to maintain our road system. It is something we have to be cognizant of."

"This year may be a safety budget, but it looks like next year is going to be a road budget."

While agreeing with the point, Coun. Stephen Johnston hopes growth strategies such as infill development set to be implemented by the city will bring with it some additional tax revenue to help pay for the program.

"Our new [Official Community Plan] will speak to a lot of density in a town centre where we currently don't have high density," said Johnston.

"When you are not expanding the road network and the service network, but you are expanding the density is that core area, you have the opportunity to create a new tax revenue stream that has residential as well as commercial opportunities which will help to offset these costs hopefully."

The 2023 road rehab program will include paving work on a number of roads including McIvor, Webber, Bear Creek, Dougmac, Bartley and Bering roads.

Council has spent the the last two days deliberating the budget. Talks started with a proposal for a five per cent property tax increase.

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