Frances Bula header image 2

City stung by Fair Tax Coalition push for zero new taxes

March 5th, 2012 · 32 Comments

When the Vancouver Fair Tax Coalition took out ads last week lobbying for no new property taxes in Vancouver, it might have sounded like the usual rhetoric from business groups about municipal spending: councillors don’t understand the impact of new taxes, municipal spending is out of control, yada yada

But that message stung at Vancouver city hall, where the carefully-steering-the middle-road Vision Vancouver has been taking a lot of flak from the left for shifting business taxes to homeowners and its general pro-business approaches.

Some of that seeped out from councillors, especially Raymond Louie, in interviews and public meetings last week, where there was a sense that, after giving tens of millions in tax breaks to city businesses, all council got was a slap in the face.

But the mayor’s chief of staff, Mike Magee, was particularly strong in criticizing the coalition’s publicity campaign, as I write today. Now we’ll see what happens next.

In spite of the fireworks, the city is still working to try to alleviate the problem of skyrocketing property taxes for business operators. Council voted to re-look at land averaging, a mechanism that was brought in during the 90s to alleviate spikes in property assessments, which would then produce spikes in tax increases.

But Councillor Louie said the city is now going to start encouraging businesses not just to lean on the city all the time to solve the problem. Part of the issue locally is that landlords and tenants have unquestioningly conformed to a system where tenants pay the property-tax increase, even though it’s the landlords who cash in if and when they sell their land later on for some crazy price.

Louie said to me last week that business associations need to start helping their members possibly work out a fairer system.

In the meantime, a rocky road ahead for the coalition members as they negotiate with the city, especially when you recognize that what Mike Magee says is often in synch with what Mayor Gregor Robertson is thinking on an issue. So if Magee is expressing strong disappointment, you can safely bet the mayor is not too happy about the coalition’s campaign either.

Categories: Uncategorized