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CRD announces $777M budget for 2024

The Canadian Press
CRD announces $777M budget for 2024

The Capital Regional District (CRD) has unveiled its financial plans for 2024, totaling a significant $777M. The consolidated budget encompasses allocations for the CRD, Capital Region Hospital District (CRHD), and the Capital Region Housing Corporation (CRHC), aimed at delivering essential services for over 450,000 residents across the region surrounding and including Victoria, B.C.

Of this budget, $431M is designated for operating expenses, funding a diverse range of regional, sub-regional, and local services. The remaining $346M is earmarked for capital investments in various projects crucial for the region’s development and infrastructure enhancement. 

New funding for supportive housing approved

After receiving feedback from the public on the provisional budget approved in October, several adjustments were made to the final plan. These include a one-time funding increase for the Alliance to End Homelessness, a three-year renewal fund for the Aboriginal Coalition to End Homelessness (ACEH), and adjustments for the acquisition of the Royal Oak Golf Course.

The ACEH society provides First Nations peoples living in the CRD culturally supportive affordable housing and services, and works to identify and address the systemic barriers to urban Indigenous people seeking shelter, community and wellness.

Moreover, amendments from the Electoral Areas Committee have been incorporated, such as reductions in requisitions for specific services and funding allocations for rural fire protection in areas like Pender Island, Otter Point, and Galiano Island.

While the consolidated requisition, including municipal debt, is set to rise by 5.8%, the average per-household increase across the region stands at 3.8%, reflecting the impact of regional growth.

 Each municipality, electoral area, and First Nations within the CRD jurisdiction will experience a unique impact from these financial plans, reflecting the diversity of services and needs across the region.

 More support for long-term care 

Two significant changes were made to the Capital Region Hospital District Plan by amendment at Wednesday’s board meeting, including an increase of $2.8M to its projected contribution of $69M for the new 306-bed Western Care Community long-term care facility in Royal Bay and a reduction of $1.5M from the relocation of mental health and substance use assertive community treatment teams which was completed in 2023.

Funding for the long-term care facility, slated to open in 2027, reflects concerns from the Office of the Seniors Advocate spokesperson Isobel Mackenzie, who said Thursday that while the “provincial government has significantly increased funding in many senior’s services, this has been offset by rising costs and increasing demand from a growing seniors population.” 

“The result,” she said, “is reductions in the rate of some services like home support and increases in wait times for others such as long-term care.”

After the draft plan was approved on March 8, Colwood Mayor Doug Kobayashi said “This is a big opportunity for our seniors to age in our own community with dignity. Many people have lived their whole lives here and want to continue, and this facility will allow them to do that.” 

Various factors influenced the revision of the total budget, including inflation (now at 3.9%), interest rate changes, community needs, board priorities, and regulatory requirements. The board will continue to review and approve service and financial planning guidelines each year to manage resources in order to minimize the impact on residents of things like housing pressures and realities of a consumer price index that has risen roughly 20 points, from 131 to 152 in BC since the beginning of the pandemic in 2020.

Upgrades to important infrastructure on the way

In terms of capital projects, the 2024 financial plan allocates funds for critical infrastructure upgrades and new developments. Highlights include upgrades to sections of the Galloping Goose and Lochside regional trails, the Hartland Renewable Natural Gas Initiative aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and the construction of a new long-term care home in Colwood, providing 306 new care home beds to the region.

Additionally, investments in affordable housing continue to be prioritized, with plans to replace existing units and add new ones across various properties in collaboration with government partners. 

Overall, the CRD’s 2024 financial plan reflects a balanced approach to addressing the region’s diverse needs, advancing board identified priorities, and ensuring the delivery of essential services to residents while managing impacts on taxation and household financial sustainability.


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