Taxation by Default?
[ Westside ]
changes to the Municipal Act has given broader powers to the Regional
District of Central Okanagan (RDCO). Some of the changes were
lobbied for and approved by the Union of British Columbia Municipalities
(UBCM). Notably, two RDCO members, Robert Hobson and Aaron Dinwoodie sat
on the UBCM.
Of special interest to residents, in particular those
living on the Westside is a new means of RDCO spending your tax dollars.
Now, instead of going to you and asking for your approval, they will
seek instead what is called a "counter-petition" ( 1See
UPDATE below) This means
that the opposition must find 5% ( 2See
UPDATE below) The burden is then on the opposition to organize,
inform others of the increase, and garner support for the petition.
The first example we saw was that of the Constable Neil Bruce Middle School sports field lease. The RDCO announced the following:
There was a great deal of confusion in the wording as to whom could or could not oppose the bylaw. Many in Westbank felt that they were, along with IR9 and IR10, excluded from participating if they so desired.
The Notice went on to state:
Concerns raised by the Lakeview Heights Community Association regarding the content of the notice are:
A "Counter Petition" notice gives the opposition only 30 days to find 5% of the electorate willing to sign a counter petition. Regardless of any more 'counter petitions', it was felt that 30 days is not sufficient time for any one person or organization to gather up additional information, research the data, prepare documents, and if felt necessary, to gather up 5% of the electorate signatures.
Combine this new method the RDCO is using along with the Mount Boucherie Master Plan, the Westside Parks Master Plan, and most importantly, the recent study indicating a $65 million tax increase, and you may find taxation by default a common procedure.
WARNING - CAUTION - WARNING - CAUTION - WARNING - CAUTION - WARNING - CAUTION -
also creates an effective gag order. If you elect to oppose the act and
in so doing utter any comment, or make a statement in an attempt to
defeat or undermine the project, you could be taken to court! That is,
if you knowingly make false or misleading statements about the issue. In
short, when the fire protection comes around again, and you can bet that
it will be sooner than you might imagine, or when the Mount Boucherie
second sheet of ice raises it's head again, be very careful what you say
or you may find yourself in court defending your right to have an
Andrew Hanon, Editor of the Capital News wrote a superb article relative to the new act entitled "Efficient government shouldn't mean trampling democracy." (Capital News, Pg A6, Sunday, June 11, 2000)
See what others think. View the recent poll results (pops up).
What can you do if you oppose this new form of taxation? You can and should call your local regional director, or write a letter to the editor of the Capital News or Daily Courier. You can even join your local community association and lobby them to voice your concerns.
On the Westside, you can contact Aaron Dinwoodie at 769-3000 or contact the Regional District office at:
1The name of this process, once known as the "Counter Petition" form of forcing through local government tax increases has been changed and is now referred to as the "Alternative Process" - no - we're not kidding.
05/07/07 NOTE:2This 5% has changed now to 10%, but that too changes in relationship to the expected opposition. The higher the expected opposition, the higher the number required of the electorate to sign the counter-petition via the Alternative Process.
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