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Vancouver property taxes are highest in Canada, report says

Click to play video 'Vancouver property taxes prompt ‘back-to-the-basics’ campaign' Vancouver property taxes prompt ‘back-to-the-basics’ campaign
Vancouver property taxes are due Wednesday, and now a new group is calling for city council to re-evaluate their priorities, and focus on core city services. Aaron McArthur reports

Vancouver has the highest absolute value in the country for property taxes, a new report says, as the deadline to pay them looms.

The report, prepared by Andrey Pavlov, a finance professor at Simon Fraser University’s Beedie School of Business, said single-family homeowners paid an average of just over $6,200 in property taxes this past year.

That’s $1,000 more than homeowners in Toronto, and more than double what is paid in places like Quebec City, Regina, and Saskatoon.

Click to play video 'Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart urges commercial property tax flexibility for small businesses' Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart urges commercial property tax flexibility for small businesses
Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart urges commercial property tax flexibility for small businesses

Homeowners and business owners also have to deal with a seven-per-cent annual property tax increase, the report added — the second-highest such increase in Canada.

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StepUP, the B.C. non-profit organization that released the report, wants to know where the money is being spent. The group claimed on Tuesday that only about 10 per cent of city expenditures go toward what it would consider to be core services.

Read more: Vancouver passes budget with 7% property tax hike after divisive meeting

“Unfortunately, we’re taking on too many agendas that are outside of core services,” Paul Sullivan of StepUP said.

“The property tax budget was designed to facilitate engineering, fire, police, sidewalks, streets, potholes. It can’t service the social agenda that many politicians have brought to the table.”

Click to play video 'City of Vancouver proposes 8.2% property tax hike' City of Vancouver proposes 8.2% property tax hike
City of Vancouver proposes 8.2% property tax hike

Property taxes are due on Wednesday, Sept. 30.

Alex Hemingway of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives called the report “misleading,” noting that single-family homes account for just 15 per cent of all Vancouver residences.

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He said Vancouver’s property tax rate — the amount of tax paid in relation to a property’s assessed value — has gone down as real estate values have skyrocketed over the years.

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He said the city should take a different approach to property taxes.

“What would improve things, in my view, is to move towards a system of progressive brackets in our property tax system in the same way we have in our income tax system,” Hemingway said.