City proposes 3% property tax hike, affordable housing funding in 2019 draft budget

Ottawa

Ottawa is looking to close its infrastructure gap more quickly and provide more affordable housing in its 2019 draft budget tabled at Wednesday’s city council meeting.

The proposed budget for this coming year would see a three per cent increase in residential property taxes – in line with Mayor Jim Watson’s 2018 campaign promise. Factoring in a 3.5 per cent transit levy, the tax hike would add roughly $113 in annual costs for the average urban home, $93 for the average rural home and $238 for the typical commercial property.

Ottawa’s tax-supported operating budget would be $3.2 billion if the draft budget is approved, an increase of $85 million from 2018.

The city proposes to use that extra income to fund an eight per cent increase in spending on road, sidewalk, building and bridge maintenance, allocating $128.5 million this year in an effort to close the funding gap needed to maintain this infrastructure in five years rather than 10. Overall infrastructure renewal spending, including water mains, sewers and transit routes, would hit $340 million this year.

The draft budget also allocates $15 million to fund 125 new affordable housing units in Ottawa this year. The number of units could double if other levels of government match the city’s funding, according to a release. Ottawa currently spends $111 million annually on housing solutions for homeless and lower-income residents.

Ottawa will also increase its snow removal and winter operations budget by $2.4 million under the proposal, bringing the total annual budget to $70.8 million.

City council will consider the draft budget at a meeting on March 6.