Delta residents pay more on a per capita basis than Surrey to have their own police department with 'no call too small' service.

Delta residents pay more on a per capita basis than Surrey to have their own police department with 'no call too small' service.

Report ranks high spenders among Metro Vancouver cities

Surrey's taxes and spending lowest in region, West Van and New West have highest per person municipal expenses (with interactive charts)

Metro Vancouver municipalities vary wildly in how much they spend and tax, according to an analysis released by the Fraser Institute as local election campaigns intensify.

The report found West Vancouver, New Westminster and Vancouver are the cities that spent the most per resident in 2012, while Surrey, Maple Ridge and Port Coquitlam spent the least.

The disparity ranged from a high of $2,118 per person in tony West Vancouver to a low of $951 in Surrey.

Charles Lammam, lead author of Comparing Local Government Finances in Metro Vancouver, said the aim is to make it easier for voters to compare their city to others as they decide which candidates should represent them for the next four years.

“We’re trying to shed light on what is otherwise a black hole when it comes to comparing local government finances,” he said.

Lammam acknowledged there are many reasons for the differences – some cities simply decide their residents want different service levels from their neighbours and are willing to pay more for them.

“People will vote with their feet,” he said. “They’ll move to jurisdictions that have local governments that align with their preferences.”

Average spending per resident by each city in the region ranges from a low of $951 per person in Surrey to a high of $2,118 in West Vancouver.  Image: Fraser Institute.

Delta is one of the municipalities Lammam points to as having much higher levels of spending and taxation than Surrey, despite being right next door.

Delta Mayor Lois Jackson, who has been acclaimed for another term without challenge, said Delta’s stand-alone police department is a key difference from Surrey that her residents would never give up.

Delta has long outspent Surrey on policing, delivering “no call too small” service.

“Our people want to have the best emergency services we can provide and we are doing that,” Jackson said, who cautioned against “apples and oranges” comparisons.

According to the data compiled by the Fraser Institute, Delta spends $567 per resident each year for protective services – fire and police – while Surrey’s cost per person is $347.

But Surrey’s $220 relative savings per capita on fire and police may shrink, however.

Most candidates for Surrey council are promising to hire dozens more officers after a string of violent murders over the past year pushed crime to the top of the civic agenda.

The report shows West Vancouver spends twice the Metro average on parks and recreation at $570 per person versus $284 regionally and just $153 in Surrey.

Vancouver spends the most on general government – $270 compared to a Metro average of $176 and $81 in Surrey, while solid waste and utilities spending is highest on the North Shore.

The per person spending statistics don’t mean that’s how much each resident is actually taxed for services.

In fact, taxes are spread out over business and industry as well, and revenue comes into city halls from other sources too.

Surrey has by far the lowest taxes on a per resident basis ($574 compared to a Metro average of $900.)

That’s been enabled in part because Surrey’s revenues have been supercharged by growth, with $1.2 billion flowing from development fees over the 10 years to 2012, a period that saw the city’s population leap by 113,000, absorbing a third of Metro’s growth.

Port Coquitlam,  Maple Ridge and Langley Township have also relied more heavily on development fees, according to the report, which cautioned that can drive housing prices higher and reduce affordability.

Other user fees and sales of civic services also add up – New Westminster generates more from those fees, which include pay parking charges, than it does from property tax.

The findings flag Burnaby as having the highest reliance on business taxes in the region – 52 per cent of its property tax come from business.

But that could mainly indicate Burnaby is a popular place for businesses to locate, with its central geography.

Burnaby’s businesses are not the most highly taxed in the region – the city ranks close to the Metro average, although its industrial property tax rate is the second highest after Port Moody.

Businesses pay the highest property tax rates in Coquitlam, New Westminster, Port Coquitlam, Pitt Meadows and Maple Ridge, and the least in Surrey and Richmond.

Residential tax rates are actually highest in Maple Ridge, Pitt Meadows and Langley City – where they are applied against relatively low assessed home values compared with other parts of the region – while rates are lowest in the priciest areas: West Vancouver, Richmond and Vancouver.

SPENDING BY METRO VANCOUVER CITIES | Create Infographics

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The volume of visitors to White Rock’s Marine Drive over the weekend has led council to consider special measures this week. (Aaron Hinks photo)
White Rock council rejects resident-only parking for waterfront

Other health and safety measures to be considered in a special meeting Wednesday

South Surrey’s Paul Cottrell, who works with the DFO, tows a grey whale out of Semiahmoo Bay Sunday. (Contributed photo)
Dead whale floating near White Rock towed to shore for necropsy

Animal has been dead since at least April 15

Vehicles line up for the Greater Vancouver Drive-Thru Food Truck Festival at the Chilliwack Coliseum parking lot on March 27. The touring event comes to Cloverdale this weekend, April 24-25 (Photo: Jenna Hauck/Chilliwack Progress)
Here are the food trucks coming to Cloverdale for a drive-thru festival this weekend

Nine trucks will be parked Saturday, nine Sunday during event at fairgrounds

Pharmacist Barbara Violo arranges all the empty vials of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines that she has provided to customers at the Junction Chemist which is a independent pharmacy during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto, on Monday, April 19, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Parts of Surrey, North Delta to get AstraZeneca vaccines for people ages 40+

A total of seven communities in Surrey and Delta will be targeted

The Braidwood Band performs for the seniors at Zion Park Manor in Surrey, as part of a music program planned by Rick’s Heart Foundation. (submitted photo)
VIDEO: Surrey charity brings distanced concerts to care homes, with prop pink firetruck

Familiar tunes performed for seniors during pandemic-era ‘Heart for Music’ program

In this image from NASA, NASA’s experimental Mars helicopter Ingenuity lands on the surface of Mars Monday, April 19, 2021. The little 4-pound helicopter rose from the dusty red surface into the thin Martian air Monday, achieving the first powered, controlled flight on another planet. (NASA via AP)
VIDEO: NASA’s Mars helicopter takes flight, 1st for another planet

The $85 million helicopter demo was considered high risk, yet high reward

A man has died after being shot at Coquitlam’s Town Centre Park the evening of Monday, April 19. (Twitter/IHIT)
1 man dead after shooting at Coquitlam park: IHIT

The gunman is still at large, according to the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Dr. Bonnie Henry gives her daily media briefing regarding Covid-19 for the province of British Columbia in Victoria, B.C, Monday, December 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Toddler marks youngest British Columbian to die related to COVID-19

Child one of eight people to die from virus this weekend

Families of two of three workers killed in a train derailment near Field, B.C., in 2019 have filed lawsuits accusing Canadian Pacific of gross negligence. The derailment sent 99 grain cars and two locomotives off the tracks. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Families of workers killed in Field train derailment allege negligence in lawsuit

Lawsuits allege the workers weren’t provided a safe work environment

(New Westminster Police)
4 youth arrested after 30-person brawl in New Westminster leaves 1 seriously injured

Police are looking for witnesses who saw the incident take place

Sunday’s storm rocked one of the ferries crossing Kootenay Lake. Photo: Dirk Jonker
VIDEO: Storm makes for wild ferry ride across Kootenay Lake

The video was captured by ferry employee Dirk Jonker

Chakalaka Bar & Grill remains open in defiance of orders from Island Health to close. (Cole Schisler photo)
B.C. health authority seeks injunction against restaurant defying COVID-19 orders

Chakalaka Bar and Grill plans to continue serving customers without public health compliance

Most Read