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Study says Maple Ridge has least growth in municipal spending in Metro Vancouver

Fraser Institute report puts Pitt Meadows and Maple Ridge among lowest municipal revenue
Maple Ridge was one of only two municipalities to not reach a double digit increase in municipal per-person spending from 2009-2019, with the other area being the City of North Vancouver. (Pixabay - Jarmoluk/The News)

Maple Ridge has seen the smallest growth in municipal spending per-person from 2009 to 2019 in all of Metro Vancouver, according to a recent study done by the Fraser Institute.

At an increase of only 2.6 per cent, Maple Ridge sat far below 15.2 per cent average growth for municipal spending per person, which includes money towards public services like emergency responders, parks and recreational facilities staff, public transportation employees, and sanitation workers. This brought the city to a total of $1,490 spent per resident.

For this same category, Pitt Meadows saw a growth of 15.6 per cent, which put them above the regional average, and gave them a total of $1,754 per person.

When asked about this, Pitt Meadows mayor-elect Nicole MacDonald stated that, “Having comparatively lower municipal spending provides greater flexibility and opportunity for the City to increase spending in new service areas or to improve the quality of existing services.”

RELATED: Think tank says Metro Vancouver cities have spending problem

The study also took a look at changes in municipal revenue per person, which includes taxes, user fees, and land developer fees. In this category, Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows were much closer in growth and total revenue dollars.

From 2009 to 2019, Maple Ridge municipal revenue per person increased by 19.3 per cent, bringing them to $2,195 of revenue per person.

Pitt Meadows sat just slightly lower at $2,141 per person, which was an increase of 14.1 per cent during the ten-year period.

In comparison to the rest of Metro Vancouver municipalities, Pitt Meadows revenue per person is the fourth lowest, only being beaten out by City of Langley, Surrey, and Port Coquitlam. Maple Ridge sat one spot higher as the fifth lowest revenue per person.

“Revenue increases, including taxation and non-taxation funding sources, are required to deliver a balanced budget in order to incorporate additional costs of increasing service levels and/or the addition of services,” said MacDonald.

READ MORE: Pitt Meadows doubles tax revenue in decade

With the data of this study stopping at 2019, The News looked into how both cities have changed their spending and revenue per-person since then.

According to the Maple Ridge 2021 annual report, total municipal revenue generated was $180,175,258. With a Census Canada population of 90,990 in 2021, this puts Maple Ridge at $1,980 of revenue per person, which is a decrease of $215 per person from 2019.

READ MORE: Maple Ridge’s exploding population nears 100,000

The same annual report also listed total spending for 2021 being $146,512,899, which equals $1,610 per person. That’s a $120 increase from 2019.

For Pitt Meadows, their 2021 annual report stated total revenue as $52,124,903. With a population of 19,146 last year, that puts the city at $2,722 of revenue per person. A $581 increase from their 2019 per-person revenue.

Their annual report stated that the city had $39,131,187 of municipal spending in 2021, equalling $2,044 per person, or a $290 increase from 2019.

When asked about these funding numbers, Maple Ridge mayor Mike Morden explained that funding should consider more than community amenity contributions (CACs) and development cost charges (DCCs).

“It’s easy to just keep passing the bills to the general taxpayer, but it takes courage and vision to find a way to meet our needs through other viable sources,” said Morden.

“That is the reason why Council, with the adoption of the last financial plan, requested a review of all financial policies and bylaws so that the City can determine how best meet all the demands of a rapidly growing city. Tools such as area benefiting taxes, density bonusing, etc., are all under consideration.”

Morden went on to explain that Council has endorsed a plan that could result in doubling the non-residential tax base from 7 per cent to 13 per cent.

“There are currently 14 master plans underway in our city, including the PRC Master Plan, that will shape our City for many years to come,” said Morden.

But rather than focus on this data on a surface level, Morden said it’s important to understand that each city is different and will have different financial needs.

“What is important is that Maple Ridge delivers the best services possible at the lowest cost possible, and look at all possible options on how we best meet these needs,” said Morden. “We were well aware at the beginning of our term we were behind for a city of 91k people, hence why we went straight to building a plan that will deliver on the needs of a city of 150k with a way we can responsibly get there.”

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About the Author: Brandon Tucker

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