2023 preliminary budget approved by Kelowna City Council

city hall

Following all-day deliberations Thursday, Kelowna City Council has approved the 2023 preliminary budget which focuses on maintaining and expanding critical infrastructure for the fastest growing city in B.C. and directing funding toward the highest needs of the community. 

“On the heels of a pandemic and significant global economic change, our organization remains strong,” said City Manager Doug Gilchrist. “However, each budget brings with it unique challenges, and opportunities. While our pandemic recovery has been top-of-mind, the City’s growth and community priorities continue to heavily influence our financial decisions.” 

Based on the average value single-detached home in Kelowna, Council has approved an $86.88 increase to property taxes. The 3.80 per cent increase – or $7.24 per month – includes the introduction of a one-per-cent public safety levy to fund the addition of six new RCMP members, four firefighters and four bylaw officers.  

“Each year we are tasked with balancing the community’s interest in maintaining existing levels of services while planning for significant infrastructure needs,” said Gilchrist. “With recent global economic challenges, this budget focuses on financial prudence amid inflation and growth to keep the tax rate as low as possible. The public safety levy will provide a dedicated and predictable ongoing funding source for one of our highest community priorities.”  

The City is investing $25.4 million in transportation projects, including $7.9 million in active transportation networks; $6.2 million for land acquisition to support the future extension of Sutherland in the Landmark area; $4.5 million in transportation infrastructure renewal; $3.3 million for road improvements on the Stewart Road West corridor; and $1.2 million for upgrades and expansion of the Okanagan College Transit Exchange in partnership with BC Transit.   

Investments in social wellness include funding to transition the outdoor sheltering Community Development Coordinator and the extension of the Peer Navigator program at Parkinson Recreation Centre to support people experiencing a variety of vulnerabilities, including those with lived and living experience of homelessness and/or substance use.  

The City will also invest in building capacity for improved engagement with Indigenous communities on community planning projects, and a Housing Needs Assessment that will serve as the foundation for an update to the Healthy Housing Strategy focused on enhancing housing diversity and attainability. 

In addition to protecting existing infrastructure and planning for growth, other investment priorities include digital transformation to improve the City’s operational efficiency and addressing climate change through the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. 

The total 2023 preliminary budget is $528.6 million. Of that, the gross taxation demand is $175.1 million. Once budget carryovers are approved, and the financial plan is finalized in April, only approximately 25 per cent of the City’s 2023 operating and capital costs will come from annual taxation. Other revenue sources include reserves, grants, and income from user fees including those from self-funding business units, including Kelowna International Airport, the City’s water utility and solid waste operations. 

“Our secure financial position and fiscal innovation has served us well, enabling us to respond, adapt and rescale where necessary,” said Gilchrist. “Based on the average home price for similar cities in B.C., Kelowna’s property taxes are expected to remain in the mid-range.” 

Carryover requests will be presented to Council in March and the final tax demand will be decided by Council in April 2023. 

To review the 2023 financial plan, subscribe for budget e-updates and for more information about the City of Kelowna budget, visit kelowna.ca/budget.