Crafting the annual budget for an organization as large and diverse as the Capital Regional District is no small task.
Financial and departmental staff and management work many hours to assemble such a document for initial discussion, later amendments and ultimate approval by the CRD board.
Amended provisional financial plans for the CRD, Capital Regional Hospital District (CRHD) and Capital Region Housing Corporation (CRHC) were passed Oct. 28, but the budgeting process still allows for public input before the final review and board approval next March.
Feedback on the 2021 budget can be submitted online to the CRD board at crd.bc.ca/budget by completing the form by Jan. 31.
Among the most recent proposed changes to the provisional budget were an increase of $1 per year per household to the land acquisition fund – a move that would generate an extra $193,000 for parkland acquisition – and $75,000 for adding First Nations representation to CRD standing, select and advisory committees.
“The provisional budget is a conservative and cautious approach given the current economic climate,” said CRD board chair Colin Plant in a release. “We are aware it is a challenging time and we want to continue funding important social priorities, such as housing and additional park space.”
The consolidated 2021 budget for the three regional bodies of $600 million currently calls for a 1.76-per-cent increase over 2020. That includes a $355 million operating budget and $245 million for capital projects. Approximately $185 million of the capital budget is allocated to CRD projects, which represents a drop of $214 million from 2020.
Significant capital undertakings on the books for 2021 include the continued implementation of the Regional Housing First program, which is set to add nearly 300 units in the region by next year; an energy recovery project at Panorama Recreation Centre in North Saanich that projects an 80-per-cent reduction (351 tonnes) in greenhouse gas emissions for the facility; a $3-million upgrade on the regional water supply main No. 4 and continued replacement of intake screens at the Sooke Lake reservoir; $1.4 million for a new oxygenation system in Elk and Beaver lakes; $3.4 million for Phase 3 construction on the E&N Rail Trail in Langford, and $4.3 million for aggregate production and rock extraction at Hartland Landfill for on-site use as daily cover and building access roads.
Some projects need approval from other funding sources to move forward.