Ottawa 2022 budget approved with 3% property tax hike, 2.5% transit fare increase

Mayor Jim Watson led council to another three-percent tax increase in 2022. The Canadian Press/Lars Hagberg

Ottawa residents will see their property tax bills rise the standard three per cent in the new year and transit users will eventually be paying more in 2022 as well, despite some councillors’ efforts to find a fare freeze.

Ottawa city council voted 16-8 in favour of the $4.14-billion budget plan after a marathon 10-hour meeting on Wednesday.

The increase will result in property tax bills rising by $119 for the average urban homeowner, $91 for rural homeowners and $242 for the typical commercial landlord in 2022.

Capital spending on Ottawa’s roads, bridges and other major infrastructure is set to hit $989 million in 2022, a jump of $209 million over the current year’s levels. Spending on road renewal will roughly double in 2022 to $133.3 million.

The Ottawa Police Service budget received a two per cent hike to its levy, causing some consternation among councillors who thought the increase was too much or too little.

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Transit fares will rise 2.5 per cent in 2022 but not right away — costs for riders will be frozen until the month after Rideau Transit Group gets the full 15 trains running on the Confederation Line.

“People want stability and they want predictability,” Jim Watson said to reporters after city council, noting this was the 12th budget he had passed as mayor with his promised three per cent tax hike.

Watson also highlighted the risks of rising inflation further weighing on taxpayers’ wallets in the new year.

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Watson criticized some motions that came forward Wednesday that proposed dipping into the city’s reserves or taking on new spending without finding offsets elsewhere in the budget.

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Somerset Coun. Catherine McKenney had two major motions — one looking to shift the transit fare increase to the property tax base and another to use $9 million from the federal gas tax on projects to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the city — that failed to make it into the budget.

The gas tax proposal was deferred to the second quarter of 2022 while another motion asked staff to explore the impact of shifting more of the transit fare revenue source to the tax base.

But delaying and deferring bold ideas weren’t sufficient for the Somerset ward councillor.

“I’ll tell you what we’re looking for in this city. We’re looking for action on climate. … We’re asking for transit that is affordable to the people who need to be on it,” McKenney said.

“We want equity in our city, we want a city that is built for everyone, that takes care of people’s needs. This budget doesn’t come anywhere close to it. This is probably the worst budget that we have seen, at least in the eight years of my time on council.”

The final vote on the 2022 budget fell as follows:

  • Orléans Coun. Matt Luloff – Yes
  • Kanata South Coun. Allan Hubley – Yes
  • Rideau-Rockcliffe Coun. Rawlson King – No
  • Alta Vista Coun. Jean Cloutier – Yes
  • River Coun. Riley Brockington – Yes
  • Knoxdale-Merivale Coun. Keith Egli – Yes
  • Kanata North Coun. Cathy Curry – Yes
  • Beacon Hill-Cyrville Coun. Tim Tierney – Yes
  • Stittsville Coun. Glen Gower – Yes
  • Gloucester-Southgate Coun. Diane Deans – No
  • Rideau-Goulbourn Coun. Scott Moffatt – Yes
  • West Carleton-March Coun. Eli El-Chatiry – Yes
  • Capital Coun. Shawn Menard – No
  • College Coun. Rick Chiarelli – No
  • Somerset Coun. Catherine McKenney – No
  • Barrhaven Coun. Jan Harder – Yes
  • Kitchissippi Coun. Jeff Leiper – No
  • Innes Coun. Laura Dudas – Yes
  • Bay Coun. Theresa Kavanagh – No
  • Gloucester-South Nepean Coun. Carol Anne Meehan – Yes
  • Cumberland Coun. Catherine Kitts – Yes
  • Rideau-Vanier Coun. Mathieu Fleury – No
  • Osgoode Coun. George Darouze – Yes
  • Mayor Jim Watson – Yes
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