How can I influence the City’s budget?

    City Council has approved a set of key priorities to guide staff in developing the annual budget. You can share your thoughts and ideas a number of ways:

      • Complete our survey to tell us about your priorities for City spending and managing your tax dollars – survey closes September 20.
    • Try balancing the City’s budget with our new interactive 'Balance the Budget' tool and let us know where you think we should spend more or less
    • Register to speak at the December 1 City Council meeting by phone or in person –
    • Contact Mayor and Council directly via
    • Share these opportunities with your networks.

    How is the City spending my tax dollars?

    There are more than 80 public services that are funded through the budget, from public safety (fire and police) to engineering public works like sewer and water, to community services such as parks and recreation, arts and culture, libraries, social services, and planning and development. You can read all about them in the annual service plans in the 2020 Budget Book and you can learn more about how your tax dollars are spent by watching this short video on our web site.

    What are Council’s Priorities for the 2021 Budget?

    The main priority is to maintain and improve the core services that meet the needs of residents and businesses every day. The additional priorities will help staff align spending in 2021 to the other programs and services that are most important to the public and to Council:

    • Deliver quality core services that meet residents’ needs 

    • Address affordability and the housing crisis 

    • Protect and build a resilient local economy 

    • Increase focus on equity and critical social issues 

    • Accelerate action on climate change

    In addition, we will be flexible and quickly adjust within each priority to best support recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

    What is the difference between the operating and capital budgets?

    The capital budget is used to maintain, improve or build new buildings, services and other City assets – things like recreation and community centres, parks, firehalls, bridges and roads. Because these are large projects which may take several years, the capital costs included in each annual budget are linked to a four-year capital plan, approved by Council and voted on by the public every municipal election. Capital projects are partly funded by government grants and contributions from property developers (development cost levies).

    The operating budget is the yearly budget that funds the services and programs residents and businesses use every day. This includes things like fire and rescue services, roads and planning, water and sewer, garbage and recycling pick up, social housing and childcare, and civic theatres. The two main sources of funding for the operating budget are property taxes and utility fees.