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What to know about the city budget – and how to get involved

Thunder Bay residents will have several chances beginning on Thursday to provide feedback on a draft 2023 city budget that's drawn concern over a large proposed tax levy hike.
Thunder Bay's city council votes at a meeting in December. (Ian Kaufman, TBnewswatch)

THUNDER BAY — After hearing an initial round of public feedback Thursday evening, Thunder Bay’s city council will set the 2023 municipal budget over a series of meetings in the coming weeks.

The document outlines how the city will allocate nearly half a billion dollars of spending on everything from roads and arenas to parks, public transit, and police.

The draft budget prepared by city staff was released to the public on Jan. 4, after being shared with city councillors in mid-December.

Its proposed 6.2 per cent tax levy hike has drawn concern, including from Mayor Ken Boshcoff, though others on council suggest a large increase is necessary to handle high inflation without cutting services.

The tax levy is the total amount of money the city collects from its tax base. The levy hike influences, but doesn’t necessarily match, the increase individual tax payers will see in 2023.

Individual tax bills are also influenced by any changes in MPAC property value assessments, as well as the city’s tax ratios, which specify how the levy is divided among residential, commercial, and industrial tax classes.

City council will review the city’s tax ratios in April.

In addition to spending, the budget sets user fees for city services like transit and facilities like pools and arenas, with some significant increases proposed this year.

It also establishes water and wastewater rates, where three per cent increases are proposed, as well as setting fees at the municipal landfill.

The budget is also where council can approve or reject proposed staffing increases.

The draft 2023 budget includes an expansion of 50.9 full-time equivalent (FTE) permanent staff positions, with 20.8 of those requested by the Thunder Bay Police Service.

How to get involved

Residents can review the proposed budget and find full details on how to participate in the budget process at the city’s website.

Citizens can provide input through an online survey, available through Feb. 4 at the city’s Get Involved website, and at two meetings dedicated to public feedback.

The first takes place Thursday at 6:30 p.m. at city hall, with walk-in deputations permitted.

Like other budget meetings, it will be livestreamed on the city’s website and broadcast on Shaw Spotlight channel 10 and Tbaytel Digital TV on channel 110.

The Thunder Bay Chamber of Commerce is set to speak at the meeting, along with advocates for investment in a unified waterfront trail and other citizens.

City council will then review the proposed budget in detail in a series of meetings on Jan. 17, 19, 25, and 31 that begin at 5 p.m.

Councillors are able to propose amendments to the budget during those meetings, with some already signalling they’ll seek options to reduce the proposed tax hike, including service level reductions.

A second public meeting will be held following those review sessions, on Feb. 2, before council holds a final vote to ratify the budget on Feb. 6.

Deputation requests for that meeting can be made by emailing or by completing an online form. Walk-in deputations will also be permitted.

Community handbooks for the budget can be downloaded from the city’s website, or picked up at city hall and the Waverley and Brodie library branches.


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