LETTERS: ‘Almost’ the best place on earth

Weekly letters to the editor from in and around the Sooke community.

Why form a society called Grumpy Taxpayers of Greater Victoria?

It’s my belief that Greater Victoria is almost “ The Best Place on Earth,” from amazing sunrises to stunning sunsets, from a foodie paradise to wine country, from a gorgeous inner harbour to maybe spotting an orca in the wild.

That a small capital region of only 360,000 people is governed by 13 municipalities and 91 mayors and councillors, multiple police forces and fire departments, along with a bevy of directors at the Capital Regional District – also takes your breath away.

Taken together the annual budgets of our 13 local governments amount to an annual mega-project. Annual taxes and charges for all property classes is almost $750-million in 2015, according to the B.C. Local Government Department. The lions share is spent by Victoria ($220-million) and Saanich ($270-million).

One of many troubling issues is that none of the fractured jurisdictions, separately or together, seem to have the capacity or ability to manage large infrastructure projects: Hard-working taxpayers will be hit by a huge cost overrun and two year delay on the $100-million Blue Bridge replacement. Then there’s the flushing sound of taxpayer’s cash to upgrade a $1-billion sewer system. Is this any way to govern a region? Without those bills added up or paid for, now the Capital Regional District is considering borrowing $50-million to help a handful of homeless!

It’s rare that things change unless we think differently and are prepared to challenge the status quo.

Taxes certainly are the price for civilization, but it’s not too much for some respect and restraint on behalf of the taxpayer. What seems to be lacking in many of the municipalities is a culture of frugality, making do, or even using duct tape.

Many of the supporters of Grumpy Taxpayers are elders who have been around the block a few times, and have paid taxes for a quarter or even a half century. They have family or friends who have left Greater Victoria because it’s unaffordable. So volunteering is an opportunity to give something back to the community, while making sure their fixed retirement income lasts.

We are well aware of the importance of business in creating wealth and prosperity, as opposed to taxing-and-spending-and-wasting. We view the business community as an integral, critical part of Greater Victoria worthy of support and nurturing.

It’s time for Grumpy Taxpayers of Greater Victoria, a non-profit, unaffiliated, non-partisan, citizen’s advocacy group dedicated to lower taxes, less waste, and more accountable municipal government.

We’ve earned the right to be grumpy, but also constructive. We know with perseverance you can bring change at city hall, then we can be “The Best Place on Earth.”

Stan Bartlett,

Grumpy Taxpayer$ of Greater Victoria Society