With the recent municipal election (in which i did not run), i began to feel a weight lifting off my shoulders. With Tuesday’s swearing-in of the new council, and the official end of my own council term, the unweighting is complete. Continue reading
Why our little town seems stuck
8 min read
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):
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
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
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
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