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Proposed regional budget could see average homeowner pay $63 more, plus any police increase

Regional council discussed the 2022 draft budget on Wednesday
Regional building 2
Regional headquarters

The average homeowner could see $63 added to the regional portion of their property tax bill next year.

The proposed regional budget for 2022 is a 4.4 per cent increase overall, and it doesn't account for increase to the police budget.

Waterloo Regional Police may receive an additional $12.4 million in funding, which is a move council supports, and could add another $44 to the tax bill.

During Wednesday's 2022 Plan and Budget Public Input meeting, residents expressed concern.

"Hardly a day goes by, where I don't see one, two, three police cars patrolling the neighbourhood where I live, the roads along my commute, the parking lots, the facilities that I use, but these pressing issues faced by the region right now today, they just won't be solved by more police funding," said Stephen Furmaniuk, a resident of Kitchener.

Furmaniuk said money should be going to community groups for problems like homelessness, mental health, and anti-Indigenous racism to take pressure off of police.

Another focus of the meeting was the proposed cut to the ongoing grant for the Grand Philharmonic Choir, which provides core support like paying staff salaries.

"The choir provides a variety of high quality musical performances for Waterloo Region audiences, it provides musical training for children and youth, it supports Canadian composers, and it helps to make Waterloo Region known as culturally important in other parts of Canada," said David Taylor, treasurer for the Grand Philharmonic Choir.

Taylor said losing the grant wouldn't cause the choir to have to cease operations, but it would need to find ways to reduce or eliminate what it does.

CycleWR also asked the Region to support more cycling infrastructure.

"Cycling is the most efficient means of getting around, in terms of green house gases. It's more efficient even than walking, and certainly more efficient than transit and ten times more efficient than electric vehicles," said David Trueman, co-chair of CycleWR.

Trueman said he wanted council to reallocate money within the transportation budget and to shift existing transportation staffing to planning for active transportation.

Council is aiming to get the overall increase to the budget down to between two and three per cent.

The budget will receive final approval on December 15.