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'It came as a shock to me': Edmonton city council grappling with proposed increase to 2024 taxes

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As city council mulls increasing Edmonton's 2024 property taxes to 8.7 per cent, one local charity worries it will push people into poverty.

On Thursday, the city announced an increase of 2.1 per cent on top of the 6.1 per cent increase already planned for this year is necessary to maintain current service levels.

Edmonton's Food Bank says it's already serving a client base nearly the size of Fort Saskatchewan.

"We've been struggling to stay on top of the demand and the need in our community," Tamisan Bencz-Knight of Edmonton's Food Bank said.

"Last year alone, Edmonton's Food Bank served over 75,000 different Edmontonians."

Bencz-Knight worries an increase in taxes could be detrimental to people on a fixed income.

"There is no light in the tunnel. The cost of food is up, the cost of housing is up, the cost of taxes."

City council members are also struggling to wrap their heads around the increase.

"I know that's going to come as a shock to people. It came as a shock to me. And I think, in this time of affordability concerns that we all have, it's even more concerning," Ward Sspomitapi Coun. Jo-Anne Wright told CTV News Edmonton on Friday.

Wright says the increase is due to inflation, as well as contract settlements with city workers and police.

She also points to areas of provincial jurisdictions where the city has been forced to spend, like housing and responding to overdoses.

"I'm frustrated. I think the province needs to step up to the plate and learn to work together with other levels of government, rather than just fighting both the feds and our municipalities."

"I think there's so much that they can do and if we all work together. Maybe we can help reduce the affordability issue for Edmontonians."

Ward Karhiio Coun. Keren Tang is also looking for more accountability from the province.

"We also looked at things that we have been delivering on behalf of our provincial government," Tang said.

"Things like the shigella response, where we were supporting Alberta Health Services, things like the opioid overdose crisis, $9.1 million in 2023. These are costs that we, on behalf of Edmontonians, have requested from our provincial government."

"We can't keep paying for these downloaded responsibilities. And quite frankly, the volume of that has increased over the last few years."

Both Wright and Tang worry about having to reduce services if taxes aren't raised.

"We know at a time like this especially, people rely on city services to get to work, get to school, make sure businesses are operating, make sure that people have a good quality of life in their neighbourhood," Tang said.

"So we can either raise taxes, or we cut a lot of those things back."

Edmonton is not alone in its tax troubles, many other major cities in Canada are facing increases around 6 per cent or higher this year.

But going from the 6.6 percent council approved in December to the recommended 8.7 per cent now, means only Toronto would see a steeper spike.

Council will discuss the tax bump on April 23. 

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