How much cities spend per capita in Metro Vancouver. (Fraser Institute)

Surrey spends least per resident in all of Metro Vancouver: report

Vancouver spends the third-highest

The City of Surrey spends the least money per capita on its residents, according to a new study, while West Vancouver spends the most.

The Fraser Institute compared the spending rates of 17 municipalities across Metro Vancouver, using provincially-provided data to measure how each city’s spending broke down ahead of this fall’s local elections.

Its report, released Thursday, says while spending varied heavily in each city, by and large all of them spent the most money on protective services, which encapsulates police, fire departments, bylaw enforcement and emergency preparedness.

West Vancouver topped the list at $2,583 per person. New Westminster, which came in second, spent about $2,225 per person.

“Vancouver is the region’s third highest spender at $1,944 while Surrey is the lowest at $1,057 per resident,” said study co-author and senior policy analyst Josef Filipowicz.

Vancouver spent 84 per cent more than Surrey, despite Surrey being the second biggest city in the region, with only 100,000 fewer people than Vancouver.

“And it’s not necessarily one particular area that’s driving Vancouver outspending Surrey. Vancouver outspends Surrey… in all the categories.”

Per capita spending had gone up in every single city since 2007, even allowing for inflation,

Langley Township, with the second fastest growing population, had the highest growth at 47 per cent, while Port Coquitlam had the lowest at three per cent. The average across the region was 21 per cent.

Surrey, whose population grew the fastest over the nine-year study period, increased per capita spending by 26 per cent, while Vancouver’s went up by 22 per cent.

Since 2007, the percentage of revenue brought in by developer fees has jumped from seven to 15 per cent – a “rapidly growing,” Filipowicz said.

Although residents might think developers fees are preferable to other sources of revenue, the report says they come with their downsides.

“In some markets, such taxes can be passed on to homebuyers, leading to higher prices for new homes and, possibly, existing housing,” it reads. “This is a critical issue in Metro Vancouver, which already has high home prices relative to other Canadian regions.”

Voters go to the polls Oct. 20.


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