EDITORIAL: Water decisions

The corresponding decrease in economic activity that comes with a 45 percent increase in DCCs would force city to increase property taxes

At Parksville city hall, it’s all about the new water treatment plant.

Every financial decision, every increase-fees-and-taxes trial balloon, has this monolithic and mandated facility at its core.

The provincial government, through the Vancouver Health Authority in our region, says all surface water headed for homes must be treated, by the end of 2016 at the latest. The City of Parksville gets the majority of its water from the Englishman River.

Every purchased paper clip, every tax decision, every speech Mayor Chris Burger makes, seems to include some reference to this facility.

We are not about to doubt the science or the health factors behind the need for the facility. But like the Englishman River itself, stuff flows downhill and it seems inevitable the relatively small amount of taxpayers in the city will see significant property tax increases in both the near and distant future. City staff, under the direction of Burger, CFO Lucky Butterworth and CAO Fred Manson, have undoubtedly been crunching numbers every day, looking for ways to spread the pain.

One of their first attempts, a trial balloon perhaps, is potentially increasing development cost charges as much as 45 per cent in the city. We suggest this kind of increase, this kind of message to developers who will look elsewhere to invest their money, is counterproductive.

It might be a nice default position for some people in the city — charge those who aren’t here, only those who would come here — but that’s a shortsighted view. The corresponding decrease in economic activity that would undoubtedly be associated with a 45 per cent increase in DCCs would force the city to increase property taxes and other fees on current residents.

Burger likes to play nice with senior levels of government. Sure, he will publicly kick up a fuss when it comes to a private company making him angry (see dispute with Telus), but like a child who wants to be nice to the grocer because he might get a candy once in a while, Parksville’s mayor doesn’t like to push those in senior levels of government. He needs now to publicly stick up for his constituents when it comes to decisions from Victoria and Ottawa.

VIHA wants the water treated? Then the province must come to the table with much of the money for the facility. The Tories often say they support infrastructure projects.

Instead of hammering the lifeblood that new business can become for a community, it’s time for Burger and city council to play some public hardball with MLA Michelle Stilwell and MP James Lunney.

— Editorial by John Harding

At Parksville city hall, it’s all about the new water treatment plant.

Every financial decision, every increase-fees-and-taxes trial balloon, has this monolithic and mandated facility at its core.

The provincial government, through the Vancouver Health Authority in our region, says all surface water headed for homes must be treated, by the end of 2016 at the latest. The City of Parksville gets the majority of its water from the Englishman River.

Every purchased paper clip, every tax decision, every speech Mayor Chris Burger makes, seems to include some reference to this facility.

We are not about to doubt the science or the health factors behind the need for the facility. But like the Englishman River itself, stuff flows downhill and it seems inevitable the relatively small amount of taxpayers in the city will see significant property tax increases in both the near and distant future. City staff, under the direction of Burger, CFO Lucky Butterworth and CAO Fred Manson, have undoubtedly been crunching numbers every day, looking for ways to spread the pain.

One of their first attempts, a trial balloon perhaps, is potentially increasing development cost charges as much as 45 per cent in the city. We suggest this kind of increase, this kind of message to developers who will look elsewhere to invest their money, is counterproductive.

It might be a nice default position for some people in the city — charge those who aren’t here, only those who would come here — but that’s a shortsighted view. The corresponding decrease in economic activity that would undoubtedly be associated with a 45 per cent increase in DCCs would force the city to increase property taxes and other fees on current residents.

Burger likes to play nice with senior levels of government. Sure, he will publicly kick up a fuss when it comes to a private company making him angry (see dispute with Telus), but like a child who wants to be nice to the grocer because he might get a candy once in a while, Parksville’s mayor doesn’t like to push those in senior levels of government. He needs now to publicly stick up for his constituents when it comes to decisions from Victoria and Ottawa.

VIHA wants the water treated? Then the province must come to the table with much of the money for the facility. The Tories often say they support infrastructure projects.

Instead of hammering the lifeblood that new business can become for a community, it’s time for Burger and city council to play some public hardball with MLA Michelle Stilwell and MP James Lunney.

— Editorial by John Harding

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