Late this afternoon, the City of Vancouver posted the agenda for the upcoming council meeting next week. Tucked in the agenda is a motion by the COPE/Vision caucus which takes aim at Vancouver's big businesses. The motion calls for the Province to provide the City of Vancouver with the power to give tax breaks only to 'small business' and exempt big business.
The motion lacks any definition regarding what classifies as a small business. Presumably, Council is seeking to give tax breaks to small mom-and-pops, while leaving companies with 20 or more employees left high and dry.
Councillor David Cadman introduced the motion, but it sounds eerily similar to what City Budgets Committee Chair Councillor Raymond Louie pushed for in the last term of Council. In the world of COPE, the story goes something like this. Small businesses good. Big businesses bad. End of story.
With Vancouver desperately trying to attract new businesses and investment in the midst of an economic meltdown, the timing of COPE/Vision's motion is odd. The motion sends the wrong message, at the wrong time and I doubt it will get approved by the Province.
In the past, some councillors have spoken out against the property tax shift and said they couldn't support it because it didn't differentiate between small and big business. This motion is likely aimed at addressing those concerns given Council will be debating the issue of the tax shift in the coming weeks as part of the 2009 Budget.
A couple of other motions were also introduced including one to introduce a number of new advisory committees at City Hall. They include a new committee to support the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered and Queer community, as well as a new women's, seniors and persons with disabilities committee.
How do you say "back to the future"? The previous NPA-led Council either ended or merged many of these special interest committees in 2006.