Vernon City Council has debated, amended and endorsed the 2022 budget presented within the 2022 – 2026 Financial Plan, with a total budget increase of 6.88%.
The 2022 budget maintains core municipal services and reaffirms Council’s commitment to community safety and a comprehensive response to climate change.
“The health and safety of our community is paramount,” said Mayor Victor Cumming. “The 2022 budget provides the necessary resources to support the daily efforts of the Vernon North Okanagan RCMP and Fire Rescue Services, and maintains essential services our citizens rely upon.”
Police and Fire Services
The overall budget increase of 6.88% includes 2.32% for RCMP services. This follows the ratification of the first negotiated Collective Agreement for RCMP regular members. In 2022, the Agreement will add more than $1 million to the City operating budget to retain all current policing resources. In addition to the Collective Agreement change, Council endorsed the creation of three new support staff positions for the RCMP detachment.
“These positions will add great value to the detachment by reducing administrative tasks for officers and helping to keep boots on the ground in the community,” said Mayor Cumming.
Council also supported the continued implementation of Fire Rescue Services’ Eight Year Strategic Plan, with the addition of two new firefighters in 2022. This follows a challenging fire season in 2021, and three of the past five years. Careful, planned growth of fire resources and thoughtful apparatus renewal is key to a responsive fire service.
“The extreme weather and environmental events we’ve witnessed this year have provided stark evidence that we must be fully committed in our response to climate change – both in our emergency response and in our planning and mitigation efforts,” said Mayor Cumming. “These efforts will be realized through the City’s ongoing infrastructure program and the implementation of Vernon’s Climate Action Plan, which was endorsed by Council earlier this year.”
A new position will be created in 2022 to guide the implementation of the Climate Action Plan. This employee will work with all City divisions to find efficiencies and implement strategies to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from City-operated buildings and activities. They will also work with residents to learn about Climate Action and what we can all do to reduce GHGs and increase our resiliency through adaptation.
1.9% infrastructure levy and Capital program
In 2013, Council introduced a cumulative 1.9% infrastructure levy as a 10-year program to provide the necessary funds to repair or replace aging infrastructure and establish a stronger foundation for our community. This program helps fund improvements to municipal roads, storm water and wastewater management systems, public buildings, and parks.
In 2021, the infrastructure levy was paused for one year, in response to impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic. Yesterday, Council reaffirmed its commitment to the program by re-introducing the levy in 2022.
Vernon’s 2022 Capital program will include more than $18 million in projects. Some of the larger projects include:
- Silver Star Road multi-use path (Phase 2) between Pleasant Valley Road and Blackcomb Way - $1.99M
- Trenchless storm and culvert rehabilitation - $1.2M
- Tronson Road sewer force main replacement - $2.12M
- Okanagan Landing sanitary sewer collector pipe installation - $1.06M
- Lake access improvements on Okanagan Landing Road, Tronson Road and Lakeshore Road - $880K
Service level increases
Finally, Council approved a small number of service level increases to support municipal operations, including the addition of a communications officer, operating funds to maintain the Civic Memorial Park once construction is complete, enhanced turf cleaning to remove goose droppings at Kin Beach, Polson and Paddlewheel Parks; and provide additional administrative support for the Operations division.
“The last couple years have not been easy and Council fully appreciates the financial pressures many residents and businesses have experienced from a variety of unexpected circumstances,” said Mayor Cumming.
“Many of these pressures have been the result of extreme environmental events. Therefore, we must take the necessary steps to ensure our community is appropriately prepared and positioned to face future events that are sure to test us. These expenditures will help us become stronger and more resilient, adapting as necessary, to continue fostering the development of a growing, diverse, sustainable, and family-oriented community for many years to come.”
The 2022 – 2026 Financial Plan and 2022 budget are available on the City’s website: www.vernon.ca/budgetprocess.