Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Council approves 2021 budget, moves forward with $7.5 million investment plan to support SkyTrain.

On Monday afternoon, Langley City council approved the 2021-25 Financial Plan. Langley City’s operating budget is $48.3 million, while the capital budget is $18.8 million. The capital budget funds projects such as upgrading water/sewer lines and renewing parks. As part of this year’s capital budget, council also allocated $7.5 million for strategic property acquisition.

A combination of property tax, developer contributions, casino revenue, and grants from TransLink, the province, and the federal government funds the capital budget. In BC, municipalities can also use debt to fund capital projects.

In 2020, council was ready to kick off the $50 million Nexus of Community Plan. This 5-year plan was to be funded by a loan. The City would invest $31 million for strategic property acquisition to support SkyTrain and facilitate redevelopment to maximize value for residents and businesses.

COVID-19 hit as this investment plan was working its way through the approval process. Council decided to put this plan on pause. This year, council is proposing to moving forward with a scaled-back $7.5 million strategic property acquisition plan to support SkyTrain to Langley.

Council is proposing to fund this scale-back plan with a 15-year loan. The repayment of this loan required a one-time 1.93% increase in property tax this year. No further increases in property tax to support this loan are required.

As per BC law, council will be going through an Alternative Approval Process for the loan. During this process, a person eligible to vote in a local election will have an opportunity to express support or opposition to the $7.5 million loan. If an eligible voter supports the loan, they do not need to take action. If they are opposed to the loan, they must complete an Elector Response Form. This form will be available at Timms Community Centre and on the City’s website. A completed form can be dropped off or emailed to the City. If 10% of eligible voters oppose the loan, it will have to go to a binding city-wide referendum.

The Alternative Approval Process has strict guidelines, including advertising and the Elector Response Form submission timelines. All eligible voters will have the time and opportunity to participate.

Council formally rescinded the $50 million Nexus of Community Investment Plan and approved the $7.5 million Investment Plan on Monday. The provincial Inspector of Municipalities must now approve this $7.5 million plan. If approved, the Alternative Approval Process will begin.

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