Vancouver could hike fees on everything from business licences to exotic bird ownership

Click to play video: 'Major fees proposed in Vancouver'
Major fees proposed in Vancouver
Hard to believe but the costs to call Vancouver Home is going up. Vancouver Council is seriously looking at other ways to raise money for city services – Sep 7, 2023

Life for people living and working in the City of Vancouver appears set to get more expensive once again.

Vancouver city council is preparing to review a slew of new fees on everything from licensing your dog to licensing your business, and some of the proposed hikes are substantial.

The move comes as the city seeks to avoid punishing property tax hikes.

Click to play video: 'Vancouver staff report proposes 9% property tax hike'
Vancouver staff report proposes 9% property tax hike

A budget outlook prepared by city staff in June warned that Vancouverites could be on the hook for a nine-per-cent property tax hike every year for the next five years if the municipality’s financial situation doesn’t change.

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That warning came as the city grapples with inflation and seeks to pay for priorities laid out in the 2023 budget, including Mayor Ken Sim’s plan to hire 100 new police officers.

Vancouver homeowners were hit with a 10.7-per-cent property tax hike earlier in 2023.

A report from the city’s director of finance, slated to be received at next Wednesday’s council meeting, lays out a series of potential fee hikes it estimates could bring in $15.2 million.

That would be enough to shave off the equivalent of a 1.4-per-cent property tax hike in the 2024 budget, the report states.

Business, pet licence fees could climb

Council could vote on a large tranche of the proposed fee increases as early as next Wednesday, as council reviews proposed changes to licence bylaws.

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Those include an at 46-per-cent hike in the fee for a business licence ($250, up from $171), a nearly 100-per-cent fee increase in a trade contractor licence ($340 up from $171), and a 64-per-cent increase in the fee for a general contractor licence ($340, up from $207)

Those changes would more closely align Vancouver’s fees while bringing in an estimated $2.5 million, according to the report.

Council is also weighing a more than four-fold increase to the short-term rental licence, bringing it to $450 a year up from the current $109.

Click to play video: 'Return to school more expensive this September'
Return to school more expensive this September

That increase would generate $1 million, while helping cover the cost of the city’s enforcement against illegal short-term rental operators, according to the report.

Pet owners could also be paying more out of pocket, with a proposed $12-increase to the cost of licensing a dog, the introduction of a new $300-licence fee for exotic birds and a new $100-licence fee for all other animals not currently listed in the city’s fee schedule.

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Staff recommend that the city hike all other business and animal licence fees by six per cent to offset inflation.

The proposed hikes, if approved, would take effect Jan. 1, 2024.

Paying more to park, drive and ride

In addition to the licence fee hikes heading to council next week, councillors are also being asked to consider a variety of other fee hikes that, if approved, would be folded into the draft of the 2024 budget.

Several of those hikes would come in the form of parking fees.

The report proposes expanding the use of parking meters across the city, which it said could raise $4.8 million per year.

Raising the price of on-street residential parking permits, which the report argues are “currently priced below market levels,” could bring in about $200,000, the report states.

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Such permits currently range from $52 to $104 annually in most zones, fees the report recommends hiking to the $65- to $131-range.

Click to play video: 'Canadian inflation jumps in July'
Canadian inflation jumps in July

It also recommends increasing the use of pay parking at Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation parks, “with a focus on where pay parking would be beneficial.” That initiative would need a green light from the Park Board, and could bring in $500,000 per year. Park board fees are also expected to climb at at least six per cent to offset inflation.

Commercial vehicle drivers cold also be hit with a hike in the 100- to 150-per-cent range for commercial vehicle decals.

That current permit fees, which are based on vehicle weight, range from $27 to $43. The report proposes hiking them to the $50-$150 range, which it estimates would bring in $1 million per year.

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The ride-hailing industry could also see costs increase. The city currently imposes a $0.30-fee for pick-ups and drop-offs in the metro core between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m., which staff have proposed to increase to $0.45 next year and $0.60 in 2025.

That proposal would raise $2.9 million next year and $3 million the year after.

Potential changes to rezoning, development permit and building permits are expected to be revealed in a seperate report, presented to council on Oct. 3, while park board fee changes will be considered in late November.

Council is slated to vote on the 2024 budget in December.

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