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Proposed property tax increase in Vancouver to deal with opioid crisis

Last Updated Dec 7, 2016 at 11:39 am PDT

(Photo credit: Dustin Godfrey for NEWS 1130)

The suggested bump is for 0.5 per cent, in addition to 3.4 per cent already on the table

More than 600 people have died of an overdose in BC between January and October this year

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – With hundreds of people dying of overdoses in Vancouver and around the province, that city is considering a half per cent increase in property taxes to deal with the opioid crisis.┬áMore generally, people could see a 3.4 per cent increase to property tax and a 1.2 per cent increase in fees.

NPA Councillor George Affleck feels a two per cent property tax increase would be more appropriate. “I think that it’s important that any government lives within its means and a tax increase of over five per cent to people in Vancouver is too high.”

Fellow NPA Councillor Melissa De Genova says she’ll hear out any discussion before making up her mind, but hopes if it is approved, other levels of government match that figure. “I would be asking them if the province and federal government have also decided to kick in the same amount of money for that.”

This comes as the city outlines its proposed 2017 budget. “Another concern that I have is affordability. I’m not sure there is much more that taxpayers in the City of Vancouver can afford and that’s not just homeowners — that cost gets passed along to renters,” adds De Genova.

Vancouver’s fire chief is also asking for more resources at the department’s Downtown Eastside fire hall which has seen overdose calls increase 111 per cent when compared to last year.

The provincial government issued a public health emergency earlier in the spring.

The BC Coroners Service says between January and the end of October, 622 people died of an overdose, compared to 397 for the same period of 2015. October had 63 deaths, six more than September and just slightly higher than the 61 monthly average.