Monday, March 14, 2022

After much discussion, Langley City Council gives third reading to its 2022 budget, which includes taking action on climate change

In January 2021, Langley City Council declared a Climate Change Emergency and asked staff to investigate:

  • Achieving net-zero carbon emissions before 2050 within our community
  • Updating the current Sustainability Framework to incorporate current best practices on climate mitigation, adaptation and resilience, and to incorporate principles of biodiversity, sustainability and stewardship to guide future developments and infrastructure projects within Langley City
  • Resources, funding and timelines to implement the current climate change mitigation and greenhouse gas reduction plans, provide any updates, and the potential next steps to achieve the identified targets to Council.

Last summer’s heat dome, which killed 595 people in BC, and this winter’s devastating floods, which impacted Langley City, brought into focus the urgent need for the City to act.

Council proposed adding $127,500 to this year’s budget to fund an Environmental Sustainability Coordinator to start taking action. This role increased this year’s proposed property tax increase from 3.94% to 4.35%.

In January, Councillor Wallace noted that we need to take action on climate change and said, “we are way behind the times.”

Mayor van den Broek stated, “we have done nothing. We don’t have anybody on staff to address these issues.”

Councillors Storteboom and Martin were opposed to adding the Environmental Sustainability Coordinator position (when the budget received first and second reading.)

The budget needs four readings before it can be adopted. At the next meeting at the beginning of February, Council decided to delay voting on the budget’s third reading. Mayor van den Broek and myself were opposed to postponing the vote. I questioned what new information we would receive over the next month to help inform the vote on the budget.

Between second and third reading, Council did receive a few additional letters asking that any budgetary increase be constrained to inflation. In January, inflation was 5.1%.

Last Monday, Council considered third reading of the 2022 budget. Staff recommended a minor $5,000 admenement to the budget’s capital plan, not impacting property tax. Council agreed. Mayor van den Broek recommended removing all proposed staff level increases in the budget, including the Environmental Sustainability Coordinator position. The majority of Council did not agree.

Council gave the proposed 2022 budget third reading with Mayor van den Broek, Councillor Gayle Martin, and Councillor Storteboom opposed.

Next week, the budget will be up for its final reading.


Anonymous said...

Should this not be the 2023 budget under consideration? How can City Council still be discussing a budget of the year for which the first quarter is nearly complete? How have expenses over the past two months been authorized if there has been no budget to gauge them against?

Nathan Pachal said...

Between the start of the year and when Council approves the budget, the City operates on a status-quo, caretaker mode budget. New spending does not take place until after the budget is approved.