Whitehorse taxes among lowest in country

In every municipal election, people - candidates and citizens - grumble about taxes. Many think they are too high. Are they? City taxes have increased 23.4 per cent in the last three years.

In every municipal election, people – candidates and citizens – grumble about taxes. Many think they are too high.

Are they?

City taxes have increased 23.4 per cent in the last three years, said incumbent councillor Douglas Graham during an all-candidates forum on Thursday.

In 2008, the average property tax paid by Whitehorse citizens was $1,328 after the territory’s homeowner grant was accounted for.

So how does Whitehorse stack up against other similar-sized municipalities in Canada?

In Yellowknife, the most comparable of our northern neighbours, the average annual property tax is $2,330. This is for a community that has 18,700 people – 7,000 fewer than Whitehorse.

Yellowknife has 180 full-time city employees, but they contract out their transit services and solid waste duties, so those workers don’t show up on the city tally. By comparison, Whitehorse has 320 employees.

In Courtenay, British Columbia, a city with a population of 23,870, the average resident laid down $2,748 for property taxes in 2008.

Look north to the community of Fort St. John, BC, population 18,760, and you’ll find property taxes in 2008 stood at an average of $2,916.

According to research compiled this summer by Maclean’s Magazine, the national average for municipal property taxes between 2005 and 2007 was $1,445.

During that time period, Whitehorse citizens paid an average of $1,123 – $322 less than the national average.

And the community that paid the lowest municipal taxes?

That would be Burnaby, BC, where citizens were asked to fork over only $851 a year.

As for average monthly water, sewer and garbage fees, Whitehorse falls somewhere in the middle of the pack.

In 2008, city residents paid an average of $55.55 for these services whereas people in Edmonton paid $67.48 and those in Laval, Quebec, paid some of the lowest fees, at $24.80.

Contact Vivian Belik at

vivianb@yukon-news.com

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