Review highlights of our Budget and Business Plan that is designed to balance the needs of our residents and community while advancing our priorities. Browse details of the full plan below.
2023-2028 Budget and Business Plan
Record inflation, rising costs, higher borrowing costs due to increased interest rates, ongoing COVID-19 impacts, and decreased funding from all levels of government have led to an increase in budgets. Council approved a $68.3M operating budget and $37.2M capital budget for 2023, representing a status quo level of services and programs being provided to the community, all of which were asked for by residents over the years. By using paid parking revenues to fund 33% of the transit costs, funding is available for initiatives which help advance priorities such as transit service enhancements, increasing affordable services to retain and attract families, emergency notifications and response plans, reducing our impact on climate change, and productive public engagement.
The result is an anticipated 12.5% municipal property tax increase for 2023. To put this in context, a residential unit at the 2022 median assessed value of $800,000 should expect a municipal property tax increase of approximately $18.84 per month. Our monitoring of 19 similar communities in the region shows that Canmore’s taxes per dwelling unit continue be around average.
The vast majority of the increases to the budget are out of our control. There are increases to insurance, banking fees, professional fees, RCMP contract (Canmore will cover 90% of this cost now instead of 70% due to our population exceeding 15,000 people), transit costs, contracted services, supplies and energy costs, and costs for the library, museum, and artsPlace (5.9% budget increase). As well, there are cost of living adjustments for employees due to inflation (4.1% budget increase), human resource market rate adjustments, partly due to the prior COVID-19 freeze as well as an increase to the cost of benefits (2.4% budget increase), and higher interest rates on new debt especially related to the new fire hall (1.1% budget increase).
Capital expenditures (including utilities) total $37.2M for 2023 with a six-year plan total of $167.5M. Whenever possible, the Town of Canmore attempts to fund capital projects with grants, developers’ contributions, or other sources where applicable. When such funds are insufficient, draws from capital reserves, transfers from operating, and debenture financing are used.
The average annual capital envelope used over the six years is $27.9M, which is not sustainable with current funding levels. There is an additional $4.0M worth of capital projects that are unfunded in the six-year plan.
Overall, there are more than 100 projects funded in 2023 and 2024. Some significant projects in those years include: investigating and mitigating odours as well as other updates to the Water and the Wastewater Treatment Plants $23.8M; Bow Valley Trail & Teepee Town deep utility replacement and improvement to pathways, streets, and drainage $13.2M; hazard mitigation on Three Sisters Creek $4.2M; Spurline Trail bridges replacement $800K; and bus stop improvements $550K.
The 2023 and 2024 fixed and variable rates for water and wastewater increase at different percentages to grow the water reserve balance. In summary, the overall impact on an average household is an increase of 5.4% and 4.2% in 2023 and 2024 respectively. The average commercial account is projected to increase between 5% and 5.6% in 2023 and between 4.2% and 4.3% in 2024.
The 2023 and 2024 rates for residential waste and recycling rates will increase by 5% each year. Commercial recycling monthly increase is 5% each year.
The 2025 and 2026 operating plans include ongoing increases in firefighter staffing and RCMP costs, as well as debt repayments for the new fire hall. Increases to the cost of living are estimated to be 2%, based on the Calgary and Region Economic Outlook (spring report). Reserve transfers are budgeted to increase. Revenues (excluding utilities) are projected to increase by $2.4M in 2025 (compared to 2024) and by another $2.3M in 2026 due to continued growth and development in the community. The projected tax increase, net of growth, is 5.6% in 2025 and 3.1% in 2026.
On August 22, 2017 the Town's Finance Committee adopted a Long Term Financial Strategy, a document that analyzes the Town’s present capital asset funding financial position and develops strategies and actions to address the calculated funding gap that exists between what is contained in Town planning documents and current financial resources. The Long term Financial Strategy provides guidance for preparing future capital project budgets.
To increase affordability for residents, the Town of Canmore will provide additional congregate living opportunities through Happipad, revamping the Safe Park program, and working through Canmore Community Housing to increase capacity and mandate.
Increasing education, removing wildlife attractants including replacing plants and shrubs will help reduce wildlife encounters in town.
Not only will enhanced transit, improved pathways, and bike/car-share programs help reduce traffic congestion, it will reduce our impact on the environment along with improvements to waste diversion and increasing the number of solar panels on buildings.
On the journey towards reconciliation, equity, diversity, and inclusion, the Town of Canmore will be working more closely with our Indigenous neighbours, advancing efforts to eliminate systemic discrimination in the organization, and examining more possibilities for universal washrooms.
Increasing franchise fees in 2024 will generate revenue from not only municipal taxpayers, but also from renters, schools, churches, and the federal and provincial governments, who are exempt by law from paying municipal tax. By using a franchise fee to generate income from exempt community members, the burden of paying for Town of Canmore services is more equitably distributed. Franchise fees from ATCO and Fortis support capital requirements and climate action initiatives.
This budget reflects the cost of delivering existing services to the community. As the community grows, we need to determine sustainable service levels that can be reasonably achieved within the tax base. A service level review process is being undertaken to identify the highest priority areas and resources required to deliver those services and manage expectations.
As caretakers of the community, the Town of Canmore budgets to fund a variety of programs and services that are either legislated, essential, or approved by Council such as:
- services and practices to keep the community safe
- initiatives that improve sustainability
- outdoor spaces and indoor facilities for residents and visitors to enjoy
- a comprehensive transportation network of streets, roads, bridges, sidewalks, pathways, parking lots, and transit that move us through town
- services that provide recreation opportunities, business supports, special events, social supports, neighbourhood connections, and affordability support services
- waste, recycling, and organics collection, water treatment and distribution, wastewater treatment and collection, storm water management, all part of the utility rates
- all of the physical and virtual infrastructure as well as the human resources required to deliver these benefits.