COQUITLAM, B.C., Dec. 8, 2020 – Supporting the community through the pandemic will be the top priority in Coquitlam’s 2021 budget, scheduled for final adoption next week.
Yesterday, City Council approved the first three of four readings of the 2021 Five-Year Financial Plan Bylaw, which includes a cautious yet flexible 2021 budget. Overall, the budget directs resources to initiatives that support community-wide recovery from the impact of COVID-19, build resilience and continue to plan for the future.
With fixed costs rising and many typical revenue sources reduced – such as recreation fees, rentals, development revenues, and casino funding – new spending has been limited. Much of the short list of 2021 budget enhancements will focus on core services, important ongoing planning initiatives and capital investments. Resources will also be directed to Coquitlam’s COVID-19 Community Support and Recovery Plan that the City established in the spring.
Impact for Taxpayers
To reduce the tax impact for property owners, the City sought alternate funding sources – reserves and the provincial COVID-19 BC Safe Restart grant, for example – wherever possible to cover off increased costs, new priorities and a budget shortfall of $3.6 million caused by the pandemic.
Due to this approach, the 2021-2025 Financial Plan includes an average 2.69 per cent increase for property owners, just slightly more than the 2.3 per cent impact of the inflationary pressures facing the City, such as contractual obligations.
The average homeowner will see a 2.94 per cent or $62 property tax increase. Coquitlam has also been impacted by the rising costs for regional utility services, which increased four per cent for water, two per cent for waste collection and one per cent for sewer and drainage.
The average business property will see a 2.19 per cent tax rate increase, resulting from Coquitlam’s continuing tax shift to support businesses – 0.75 per cent for 2021.
The 2021 budget is based on Council’s strategic direction, a thoughtful and long-term perspective on financial planning, and public consultation that included the annual online budget survey.
Budget Highlights for 2021
The 2021 budget is aligned with the City’s 2021 Business Plan and Corporate Strategic Plan, which reflect the City-wide focus on pandemic support and recovery in 2021. The budget will maintain current service levels and provide some additional funding to support the effective delivery of core services and address emerging issues.
New or enhanced services included in the 2021 budget and Business Plan include:
- Pandemic-related resources, including a new health and safety employee to implement new protocols and guidelines, and increased outreach and communications;
- Inflationary increases for park maintenance materials;
- Increased funding to respond to extreme weather events;
- Additional funding to address the growing number of property tax appeals;
- Continuing work on a wide variety of key plans, including the Southwest Housing Review, Environmental Sustainability Plan, the Four Corners Master Plan and other initiatives related to the City Centre Area Plan, a new Water Conservation Strategy and a plan for the future Burke Mountain Village; and
- Funding for the new Business Plan priority of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, along with the provision of free menstrual products at 25 civic facilities.
Investments earmarked for 2021 through the $356-million 2021 to 2025 Capital Plan include:
- Renovating the Innovation Centre to meet current demands for recreational space;
- Completing the planning and design of the Northeast Community Centre;
- Trail improvements, including expanding the Coquitlam Crunch and connections to the Smiling Creek hydro corridor;
- A variety of park, playground and tennis court upgrades;
- Various roadway and streetscape enhancement projects;
- Transportation improvements such as upgrades to the Scott Creek Bridge and rehabilitation of the Dewdney Pedestrian Bridge;
- New sidewalks at several high-priority locations, and new flashing beacons at crosswalks;
- New technologies to enhance the Coquitlam Connect app; and
- Strategic land purchases.
Additionally, the Community Support and Recovery Plan (CSRP) will continue to provide targeted relief to residents, businesses, not-for-profit groups and other organizations in 2021. Financed by various reserve accounts – including a $5-million allocation by Council – CSRP supports next year will include grant programs, contributions to SHARE’s food and rent banks, a variety of economic development initiatives, more public Wi-Fi spots, a modified block party program, and free pandemic-related legal advice for residents and not-for-profits.
For more information on the 2021-2025 Five-Year Financial Plan, including a copy of Mayor Richard Stewart’s introductory remarks, visit www.coquitlam.ca/budget.
Coquitlam Budget Aligned with 2021 Business Plan
Coquitlam’s annual Business Plan, developed as part of the budget process, lays out the City’s highest priorities for the coming year and is a key tool for ensuring Council and community priorities are delivered effectively and efficiently. The Business Plan links strategy with action by ensuring department work plans and activities align with the City’s Strategic Plan and Council direction. City staff work on Business Plan priorities throughout the year and provide trimester progress and budget updates to Council.
In Coquitlam’s 2021 Business Plan, managing the operational impacts of COVID-19 is the top priority for all departments in the coming year. Items that support the City’s ability to respond to the pandemic have been captured as a set of new “A” priorities under the umbrella of City of Coquitlam COVID-19 Response and Recovery. To view the complete 2021 Business Plan, visit www.coquitlam.ca/bizplan.
General Manager, Finance, Lands and Police