Burnaby mayor estimates property tax hike will be 2.7%

The City of Burnaby will likely increase residential property taxes by 2.5 to 2.7 per cent in 2019, Mayor Mike Hurley said.

“Our property taxes will stay at a very reasonable level,” Hurley said. “In fairness, Burnaby property taxes have always, in my opinion, remained reasonable.”

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The city’s new mayor, who was sworn into office in November, said Burnaby’s tax rates are “at the lower end of taxes throughout the region.”

An analysis of 2017 data from the Ministry of Housing and Municipal affairs appears to confirm Hurley’s claim. The spreadsheet, provided to the NOW by SFU professor Andy Yan, shows Burnaby taxes are on the more affordable side of average.

UBC economist Tom Davidoff said Burnaby’s tax rates are “about where they should be for a large jurisdiction in Metro Vancouver.”

The region as whole has very low property taxes, Davidoff said.

“For a superstar city like Metro Vancouver, we certainly have room to pay higher taxes,” he said.

If the City of Burnaby goes ahead with a tax increase in the range of 2.5 per cent, it will remain lower than most cities in the region, according to Hurley. In December, Vancouver council approved a 4.5-per-cent property tax increase.

“We should be able to keep ours to the more reasonable rates,” Hurley said, referring to the large jump in Vancouver.

Burnaby’s lone Green Party councillor, Joe Keithley, campaigned on a promise to freeze property taxes should the party gain a majority on council. He said he has accepted the idea isn’t going to fly with the seven Burnaby Citizens Association councillors and the independent mayor.

“Well, I’m just one person on the council,” Keithley said. “Some of the councillors suggested that (the property tax increase) could go higher, which I thought was a terrible idea.”

City staff have yet to make an official recommendation for a property tax increase, which is expected to come before council as part of the 2019 budget at the end of February.

In December, Burnaby council approved two-per-cent increases to both its water and sewer fees.

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