What's going to cost you more, less, in 2018 in B.C.
Property taxes, grocery going up; but MSP, natural gas going down
As 2018 approaches, some expenses in B.C. will be going up, but this year some others are dropping or holding steady.
Here's a look at some of the services that could cost you more, less, or the same in the new year.
Property taxes (Vancouver, Kelowna)
Vancouver city council approved a 4.24 per cent property tax increase earlier this month.
That figure was a bit of a surprise, as the rise had been set at 3.9 per cent, and the further increase was a last-minute addition.
Property taxes are also going up in Kelowna, where council approved a 3.6 per cent increase.
Not exactly a service, but some grocery prices are forecast to increase in 2018, according to the latest Canada Food Price Report.
It's expected vegetable prices and restaurant meals will climb between four and six per cent.
MSP rates dropping
On the plus side, rates for medical services premiums are going down in 2018.
The NDP government announced the cut in its budget update in the fall.
Starting Jan. 1, 2018, all British Columbians will see their MSP rates cut by 50 per cent.
That means even for the highest earners, rates will drop from $150 for a couple to $75.
The province is also looking at ending the premiums entirely within four years.
Natural gas prices dropping
As announced earlier in December, FortisBC is dropping the price of natural gas effective Jan. 1 due to lower natural gas prices.
Rate drops will vary for different parts of the province.
Residential customers in the Lower Mainland, Fraser Valley, Interior, North and the Kootenays will see an approximate overall decrease of six per cent or $45 per year.
BC Hydro rate freeze in April
Hydro rates, for the first time in a while, won't be going up, but also aren't dropping.
The province has committed to a temporary freeze of BC Hydro rates as of April 2018 to allow time to conduct a review of BC Hydro.
BC Hydro has amended its application to the B.C. Utilities Commission to request approval of a zero per cent increase, instead of a 3 per cent increase to take effect April 1, 2018.
Ferry fares freeze, fall
It's not happening in January, but ferry rates for the major routes will be frozen as of April 1, 2018, according to the province.
The Ministry of Transportation also promises fares on minor routes will be rolled back by 15 per cent and free passenger fares will be reinstated for seniors traveling Mondays to Thursdays.
ICBC rates already up, could rise again
There will be no changes to ICBC rates for Jan. 1, although the basic-rate just climbed in November by 6.4 per cent and overall optional insurance rates climbed by 9.6 per cent.
That's about $130 annually for the average driver.
There are warnings that rates will climb again, unless major changes are made to the Crown corporation's basic insurance program.
Transit fares could change, but that's not clear yet
It's looking at changing the system to move to distance-based pricing. That could see transit costs rise or drop depending on your trips.
A final recommendation for potential changes is expected sometime in 2018.