Kamloops Mayor says tax hike to fight opioid crisis not yet necessary

By Jill Sperling
December 14, 2016 - 12:28pm Updated: December 14, 2016 - 3:34pm

KAMLOOPS — Vancouver City Council has approved a small tax increase to support first responders battling the opioid crisis, but the mayor of Kamloops says it's not a one size fits all type of solution. 

Property tax in Vancouver will be going up 3.9 per cent in 2017, 0.5 per cent of the increase will help fund additional resources for frontline workers. 

While Kamloops is also dealing with a spike in overdose deaths this year, mayor Peter Milobar said the needs of the two cities are different.

"My understanding is there is a targeted group within the Downtown Eastside in particular that are being stretched and they need more resourcing," Milobar said. "A good portion of that tax increase is going towards those types of services, where in Kamloops it's still built into our day-to-day operations in what we're doing with fire services, and other services like that." 

Vancouver has recorded 124 overdose fatalities between January and October this year, Kamloops has recorded 31. 

Milobar said both provincial and municipal government need to do their part in fighting against the opioid crisis, and raising property taxes is an option should resources be stretched to their limits. 

"We use property taxation to help fund ASK Wellness, we use property taxation to fund other sorts of social agencies, obviously fire services as well," Milobar said. "I think Vancouver has found themselves in a bit of a spike of resources being needed and so obviously property taxation is how they need to find that extra revenue to provide those services.

"At this point we're not looking at expanded services, but if we ever did obviously property taxation is where you'd have to find the funds as well." 

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