Financial plans approved Wednesday (March 16) by the Capital Regional District and Capital Regional Hospital District boards come with projections for more than 1,500 new jobs in the region and allow for more climate investments.
The CRD and CRHD financial plans, along with the recently approved Capital Region Housing Corporation plan, form a consolidated budget of $646 million.
The overall consolidated tax increase – property owners are billed separately for CRD services their municipalities receive – has been set at 2.7 per cent for 2022.
Capital projects contained in the plans are valued at $272 million and are projected to create an estimated 1,560 new jobs in the region. Among those undertakings are improvements to wastewater facilities on North Pender Island and the Saanich Peninsula Treatment Plant, more urgent and primary care centres in Greater Victoria, and creation of the Hartland Renewable Natural Gas Initiative, which aims to upgrade biogas generated at the landfill to renewable natural gas for sale to Fortis BC.
The CRD’s Climate Action Strategy, woven into the district’s financial plans and touching on both capital investments and operational aspects, aims to support climate-focused decisions and guide the region in its path towards low-carbon communities. That includes programs designed to reduce emissions, such as building a more energy efficient corporate fleet and CRD infrastructure, protecting ecosystem health and minimizing waste generation, the CRD stated in a release.
The combined $374 million operating portion of the budgets will support such things as the maintenance of regional parks that have seen a 20-per-cent increase in use over the last two years, and new best practices in a number of areas. Those include financial and asset management, human resources, occupational health and safety, digital communications, records management and information technology services.
The allocations follow public feedback that started last October.
The financial plans were also impacted by the significant growth seen in recent years, and 2022 property assessment figures, which increased from 14 to 35 per cent – the regional average was 21.6 per cent – between municipalities, electoral areas and First Nation communities, the release stated.
The growth rates in the region continue to be highest in suburban and rural areas, compared to urban. Since 2011 the region’s population grew 18 per cent, including 1.4 per cent in the past year. Building permit value for 2021 was about $2 billion, resulting in 4,809 new housing units, while the cost of a single-family detached home increased on average by 24.6 per cent.
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