Two of your paper’s recent front pages have featured major stories about local pushback against the B.C. speculation tax.
In municipal politics just about anywhere, developers get the ear of city council. They make it their business to befriend councillors and learn what will appeal to them: growth, jobs, tourist dollars, whatever, and soon council and the media chorus are singing along.
Hearing developers’ opinions from seemingly everywhere, we may think there is some kind of universal truth in them, but there is often very little benefit for most people in many developers’ projects. And there are costs. With every development, something is lost.
For example, Michael Thornton, the focus of your April 4 story, tells us his ever-morphing SookePoint project will be a big tourist magnet that will benefit the whole area. Sounds great, but there is already a world-class tourist magnet right next door, East Sooke Regional Park. And visitors to the park’s Pike Point are now greeted by a world-class eyesore in the foreground in their once-expansive view to the west, a row of McCottages sardined along the tip of SookePoint.
Some development is needed, but we should be especially wary of permanently alienating ever-more wilderness. The tawdry vision behind places like SookePoint adds nothing comparable in magnificence to what was already there.
The speculation tax’s higher rate for foreign investors targets those who care the least about local people and the environment. It aims to promote affordable housing, surely a worthy form of development.
So what do people want for Sooke? If you don’t want growth freaks to have it all their way, you have to be vigilant and active, since their business depends on dominating the growth discourse at every turn.