Winnipeg property taxes to rise by at least 2.33%, Mayor Bowman says

Mayor Brian Bowman says Winnipeggers can expect to see an increase in property taxes of at least 2.33 per cent in the coming fiscal year, but that figure isn't set in stone — it could rise even more by the end of the day.

Property tax rates have increased by 6.7% in last 15 years, city says

Winnipeg's executive policy committee, including Mayor Brian Bowman, at the tabling of the 2015 preliminary budget in March of last year. (Teghan Beaudette/CBC)

Mayor Brian Bowman says Winnipeggers can expect to see an increase in property taxes of at least 2.33 per cent in the coming fiscal year, but that figure isn't set in stone — it could rise even more by the end of the day.

On Wednesday afternoon, the city's executive policy committee (EPC) is expected to table the city's capital and operating budgets.

Bowman said creating the city's budgets both last year and this year has been difficult.

"We have antiquated tools for revenue generation, so it has been absolutely a very difficult budget process," he said.

The lion's share of revenue from the 2.33 per cent property tax hike would be used on road repairs and maintenance, Bowman said. Specifically, one per cent would be earmarked for regional road projects, while another one per cent would go toward local roads. The remaining 0.33 per cent would be invested in the development of Phase 2 of the city's rapid transit corridor.

Winnipeg has a $7 billion infrastructure deficit to thank for the hike, Bowman said.

"Fourteen years of neglect in terms of infrastructure investments is catching up with us," he said.

Finance chair Marty Morantz said a property tax hike was inevitable. Winnipeg's infrastructure woes are what they are today, he said, due to a "long-standing policy of tax freezes" dating back to the late 1990s.

"If I had to point to one thing, that has really put the city 15 years later into a difficult financial position," he said.

Morantz added that Winnipeggers shouldn't judge the budget on the tax increase alone.

"If you just talk about one issue in a vacuum, it's not really fair to the entire process," Morantz said. "You need to evaluate a budget as an entirety, as a whole budget, as the major legislative document for the city on an annual basis."

Rates relatively unchanged since 1999: city

According to the city, Winnipeg's property tax rates haven't budged much in recent years, compared to other Canadian cities.
Property tax comparisons of Canadian cities for the year 2014. (City of Winnipeg)

Rates went up by 6.7 per cent between 1999 and 2015 in Winnipeg — the lowest by far compared to Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Regina and Saskatoon, the city says.

For instance, property tax rates in Edmonton, Vancouver and Regina increased by 78 per cent, 57 per cent and 50 per cent, respectively, in the same time span, the city says.

Winnipeg's property taxes have increased by 6.7 per cent between 1999 and 2015, according to the city. Taxes in Edmonton and Saskatoon have increased by 78 per cent and 67 per cent, respectively, in the same time period, the City of Winnipeg says. (City of Winnipeg)

EPC meets Thursday at 1:30 p.m. CBC News will update this story after the budgets have been tabled.


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