Parksville byelection: candidates talk taxes

Parksville residents can vote in the byelection on Saturday at Baptist church on Pym street from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Instead of annual property-tax increases, candidates in the city council byelection Saturday say Parksville should look to other revenue sources to help pay for services.

Parksville will have a new city councillor after the votes are counted on Saturday. Former councillor Carrie Powell-Davidson (2008-2014) said she wants to revisit a revenue-generating idea she raised during those years.

“The city owns three parking lots that all taxpayers in Parksville are paying for and yet, they do not generate one dime of income, not even tax revenue,” said Powell-Davidson.

“These parking lots are currently an expense item which should be converted to cost-recovery if not revenue generation.  It doesn’t need to be a large amount; we certainly don’t want to deter people from working or shopping downtown but the time has come where we cannot depend solely on taxpayers to foot the bill.”

Candidate Kim Burden said the first things he looks at when considering budgets are the items he can control: expenses. He also said there are ways the city can bring in new money that could offset increases in costs.

“The city owns several properties, many of which generate no income,” said Burden. “This inventory of land needs to be analyzed to determine if the original purpose of purchase is still valid and what revenue generation through rental or disposal is available.”

Candidate Paul Reitsma, the city’s mayor in the late 1980s, also has a few ideas about revenue generation.

“Controlled slow growth provides increased revenues,” said Reitsma. “Extending the tourist season through promoting Parksville, as well as economic diversity, will bring increased revenues and with frugal spending, limits on hiring and not incorporating outside areas into Parksville (boundary extensions), we can and will maintain Parksville’s position as rating well below the average taxed municipality in B.C. I would like to see the Vancouver Canucks training camp return to Parksville (they were here in 1988-89) as well as hosting the western premier’s conference again. Invite Rick Mercer to host a segment here just as we hosted Front Page Challenge.”

Candidate Doug O’Brien suggested the city should watch closely what senior levels of government might be dumping on the city, as well as taking advantage of grant money from both Ottawa and Victoria.

“As a councillor, I would resist any attempt by other government levels to download costs that are not within the municipal mandate,” said O’Brien. “I also realize that funding opportunities and grants are available at both the provincial and federal levels and would pursue vigorously to receive ‘our’ share. I would encourage more collaboration with neighbouring municipal regions such as the RDN and Qualicum Beach to share costs for initiatives such as continuous all access trails/bikeways.”

Candidate Rick Honaizer said he wants city council to revisit the tax increase it set for 2016.

“I have said I will never vote for a tax increase, so l will ask the council to review the tax increase and find alternatives to the increase,” said Honaizer. “We must build more residential buildings in our downtown. This will increase taxes (revenue) for our city. All cities do this — it is not a secret.”

Voting day is Saturday. residents can cast their ballot at only one location: the Parksville Fellowship Baptist Church on Pym Street from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Check www.pqbnews.com Saturday night or Sunday morning for the results and read reaction from the candidates in Tuesday’s edition of The NEWS.

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