Residents of Esquimalt will see a 1.96 per cent increase on their property taxes this year, amounting to an average of an additional $46 per household.
According to Ian Irvine, director of financial services for the township, the average value of an Esquimalt home is pegged at $482,000 this year. For businesses, the average value is $796,000, amounting to tax increase of about $205.
Council was split on the proposed tax hike Monday night, with some voicing concerns the increase would have a negative impact on a business community that’s already dealing with high taxes.
Bill Lang, president of the Esquimalt Chamber of Commerce, hasn’t heard businesses complain about taxes in Esquimalt and said the increase is fair.
“We’re always trying to keep costs down for businesses… but there are things moving in Esquimalt,” said Lang, who estimates the township has between 800 to 900 businesses.
Last year, council approved a 2.15 per cent tax hike, amounting to a $210 increase for businesses and $49 for homes. The money generated from taxes goes towards a number of organizations, such as the CRD, schools and B.C. Transit.
Almost $170,000 will go into a contingency fund for significant capital projects like the Esquimalt Village Project (EVP) and water park, along with any unforeseen costs associated with sewage treatment.
Councillors have heard the business community stress the importance of the EVP, which is set to break ground in the spring of 2017. The project involves a 17,000 square-foot town square surrounded by a six-story building with 100 condos and 34 rental properties situated above commercial space on the ground level. Another five-story building will provide just under 50,000 square feet of office space that will also include a new library on the ground floor.
A water park is also in the works on an acre of land on Fraser Street next to the Esquimalt Recreation Centre.
Coun. Olga Liberchuck called the agenda for this term “ambitious,” which is why it’s important the township doesn’t have its hands tied financially.
“Comparatively, Esquimalt’s taxes are pretty low in the region,” she said. “I don’t think this is going to be driving away businesses to other municipalities.”