Kitchener-Waterloo

Special infrastructure levy would increase Kitchener property taxes over next 10 years

The city of Kitchener is mulling a special tax levy that would increase property taxes above the projected rate of inflation for the next 10 years.

Anti-poverty advocate says cost will be added burden to seniors, low-income people

Kitchener's finance and corporate services committee will consider adding a special infrastructure levy on top of the property tax rate. (Brian St. Denis/CBC)

The city of Kitchener is mulling a special tax levy that would increase property taxes above the projected rate of inflation for the next 10 years.

The tax levy is part of a new long-term financial plan that will be up for debate at the city's finance committee meeting Monday. 

According to a report by city staff, the money generated by the levy will go toward maintaining Kitchener's aging facilities, about a quarter of which are now more than 50 years old.

The staff report said facilities are the city's most underfunded asset category, and — if no action is taken — a funding gap of $227 million is expected by 2029.

If the city imposes a tax levy of 0.5 per cent, property taxes are projected to increase by between 2.3 per cent and 2.7 per cent every year for the next decade.

"The overall annual increase would still remain within an acceptable range of 1 per cent to 3 per cent," the report said.

Concerns about seniors, low-income people

Anti-poverty advocate Regan Sunshine Brussé said the levy would create an added burden for people on fixed incomes, such as seniors. She also worries the levy would motivate property owners to hike the cost of rental units. 

"I have a great deal of concern as to how this will affect our rental market, which is already in a very volatile state in terms of its affordability," she said.

Brussé said she'd like to see the federal and provincial governments kicking in more money for infrastructure funding, so less of the cost is downloaded to municipalities.

Earlier this month, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities called on whoever forms the next federal government to commit to sharing more money with municipalities for local infrastructure projects and climate change mitigation.

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