Innovation: a response

Why our little town seems stuck

8 min read

Apres Surf sign 2017-05-04

Tofino council (of which i am a member) received a heartfelt email a while ago, one i thought deserved a thoughtful response. It turned into more of an essay than i expected. First, here’s the email (abridged):

Dear Council,

I am writing to you today in hopes of receiving some answers to a few questions that have been keeping me awake at night. I am … unsettled by some of the changes happening within our beautiful, albeit endangered town. Continue reading

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Permissive tax exemption

Property tax revenue is the main source of income for the district: It’s what we use to pave roads, replace pipes, build infrastructure, run programs, and pay staff to do all of the above.

People tend to dislike paying taxes, but they usually enjoy the benefits of having paid taxes. Council tries to keep taxes as low as possible, consistent with staying on top of things like infrastructure maintenance and keeping the district running. Previous councils arguably haven’t kept up with demand, which translated into this council’s 8% tax increases in 2015 and 2016 (dropping to 2% for the rest of the five-year budget).

So here’s a tax issue i’ve been wrestling with: permissive tax exemptions. That’s when council decides to exempt certain properties from the property tax that every landowner pays to the district each year, because those properties are perceived to offer a benefit to the community at large. Continue reading

Council meeting thoughts, 28-Apr

Last Tuesday was particularly interesting for a new councillor like me. It began at 9 a.m. with two well-attended public hearings about a proposed 22-unit multi-family rezoning for a property at the corner of Hellesen* and PRH, with several speakers both for and against.

It was my first experience behind the council table on a controversial issue that people feel passionate about, and I can tell you council (even the experienced members) feels that responsibility. Speakers made several good points for and against. My instinct is to say yes to everybody, but a firm decision has to be made at some point, and council is the duly elected body to make it, for good or ill. These decisions can have a big effect on people’s lives: In this case, we will be deciding yes or no on a process that the proponents have been pursuing since 2005. Continue reading

Chilled!

Bill C-51 has been getting a lot of press lately for the (many say, including me) draconian policing and surveillance measures the ruling Conservative party seeks to introduce, in the name of saving us all from terrorism. This is one of those many “boiled-frog” moments we’ve had in recent years … the changing of the rules in small ways that are incremental steps to a huge, irreversible change in Canadian culture.

I’m not saying C-51 is a small change, but its direct effect on our daily lives would probably be small. Until it wasn’t, until the police and the watching were everywhere, and then it’d be too late. Continue reading

Bill C-51 not up to snuff!

The following just sent off to my Conservative Member of Parliament, James Lunney <ottawa@jameslunneymp.ca>. Today is LeadNow.ca‘s National Day of Action to Stand Against the Secret Police Bill C-51. (That’s a mouthful, but C-51 by comparison will really stick in your craw if you learn about it.)

Dear Dr. Lunney,

As your constituent, it’s important that you know i (and nearly everybody i know) am opposed to Bill C-51, as currently worded. It is vaguely worded, it definitely needs a robust oversight component, it is arguably unconstitutional, and it looks suspiciously like it is intended to sweep up legitimate protesters in the same net as terrorists. Continue reading