Mayor's Update: February 2022
Mayor's Update: February 2022 February 25, 2022
Hello everyone, Like many of you, Council has been very busy since my last update in January. Investing in our future On February 14, we approved a landmark operating and capital budget. Not only was the process concluded much earlier than in previous years, it is defined by minimal increases, while moving the community forward on key priorities. For 2022, our staff developed a budget that supports Council’s Strategic Plan, resumes most services that were suspended as a result of the pandemic, and supports essential operations. With inflation running at almost 5%, the budget has absorbed most of the unavoidable cost increases faced by the District, while holding the general fund increase to 1.79% over last year. I am also very pleased that we are introducing our first environmental levy—at 1.5% of the operating budget, it will amount to $1.2 million dollars this year. In 2019, Council declared a Climate Change Emergency. The recent weather events have reminded us that climate change is serious, and that we have to act decisively to reduce our GHG emissions. This levy is proposed to fund programs that protect our natural environment and reduce our impact on it. Our new Senior Manager of Climate Action and Environment, who will report directly to the Chief Administrative Officer, will develop a strategy and metrics to evaluate and prioritize projects to be funded with this dedicated levy. Council also approved a 1% increase to the asset levy, moving the District closer to meeting the annual minimum investment needed to maintain and manage over $750 million dollars in community assets and infrastructure. The cumulative total of these three items brings the property tax increase to 4.29%. This will amount to approximately $280 on a median-priced detached home valued at $3.67 million; and $123 on a median-priced condominium valued at $1.61 million. There is a wealth of information about what goes into the municipal budget on our website. I encourage you to learn more, starting with the Council Meeting Highlights from February 14. Preparing for sea level rise The environment was a major theme at the February 14 Council meeting. We are preparing a Foreshore Development Permit Area application process, which will be a valuable tool for coastal property owners. It will provide information about how to apply to develop property on the waterfront safely, and streamline the process so that these owners won’t have to go through a rezoning, which has been the process up until now. The Coastal Marine Management Plan Working Group presented their final report, providing the District with a high-level policy document that provides a framework for managing, protecting, and enhancing our coastline. Working group members Bill McAllister, Mahsoo Naderi, Alison Nock, Brian Walker, Gary Wharton, and Lori Williams worked diligently for three years to research and prepare this plan, and we owe them our sincere thanks for this work. Municipal Hall update When the upgrades to Municipal Hall are completed later this year, we will have created what is essentially a new municipal precinct. Municipal Hall will be seismically upgraded and have modern, high-efficiency systems that will greatly reduce our GHG emissions and reduce operating costs in the future. Together with the new Police Services building and seismically upgraded Fire Hall, the precinct will be able to serve the community for many years to come in buildings built to post-disaster standards. In the best of times, a project of this magnitude would present a challenge. As with any renovation, you find “surprises” when you open up walls that you couldn’t have planned for, and this has also been the case with the Municipal Hall, which was built over fifty years ago. Our project team has done a wonderful job of absorbing these surprises along the way, however, the combined impacts of COVID-19, supply chain challenges, rising inflation, and a shortage of trades have all contributed to a higher cost to complete the project and an unavoidable delay to do so. This project is very close to completion, and all of these factors have been carefully accounted for to provide an updated timeline and budget. Council has approved an additional $1.5 million dollars to increase the project budget from $19,674,536 to $21,175,000. The new completion date is August 2022. New park amenity at Argyle Gardens If you've been strolling on the Centennial Seawalk at 19th Street lately, you may have noticed that a beautiful new fence has recently been installed between McDonald Creek and the path. The new fence is a donation from a long-time West Vancouver family and is composed of three etched stainless steel panels that replaced an older chain link fence. It was beautifully designed by a member of our staff, and depicts salmon in the creek, and two lines of a poem in English and Farsi: “Human beings are members of a whole, in creation of one essence and soul”. Please read more about this generous gift here. COVID-19 update It has been a long journey with ups and downs, but British Columbia’s approach is working, thanks to broad community support for Dr. Bonnie Henry’s approach. BC is one of the most vaccinated jurisdictions in the world, and this has translated into fewer hospitalizations and deaths than most other countries and provinces. With the recent announcement that many restrictions are being lifted, our staff are working hard to respond with program and staffing adjustments. I’m very optimistic that if everyone continues to follow the provincial safety measures, support our businesses and each other, we can have a wonderful summer. Harry Jerome Oval And as Black History Month comes to a close, I’d like to leave you with a video from the Museum of North Vancouver’s “Stories of Belonging: Valerie Jerome”. In it, actor-interpreter Taylor Williams shares the story of this African-Canadian Track and Field sprinter, educator, and political activist. Valerie Jerome is also the sister of Olympian Harry Jerome, after which our new running track will be named.
Warm regards, Mayor Mary-Ann Booth