A city survey reveals a majority of Vancouverites are willing to pay a bit more taxes in order to keep cherished programs like the Stanley Park petting zoo.
For months now Vancouverites have been told by their Vision Vancouver political leadership that the goal of the 2010 budget is a 0% tax increase. Armed with this political direction from Raymond Louie, Vancouver's Budget Chair, City Manager Penny Ballem has spent the better part of the fall deciding which programs she wants to slash in the coming weeks. Whether it is the Bloedel Conservatory or the little bunnies at the Stanley Park petting zoo, Vision believes virtually nothing is sacred. There must be days when city staff wonder when policy-making began getting dictated by the Fraser Institute, rather than citizen priorities.
Vision's right wing approach to the current budget is really beginning to raise eyebrows with some of their left-leaning supporters – of which there are many. I've canvassed a number of them over the last few weeks and almost universally they are perplexed as to why Vision has moved so far to the right in such a short period of time. As we've written about here in the past, Vision appears hellbent on "out NPAing" the NPA. In fact, I dare say even the NPA would never have taken such a draconian approach. That said, there are many who believe they should have, and perhaps they would still be in government as a result.
A survey released by the City of Vancouver (which was posted on their website this week) may give Vision's left leaning supporters some food for thought. While Council is busy freaking out staff and their families with the threat of layoffs and chopping street tree planting programs, Vancouverites indicate they have a tolerance for higher taxes. In fact, 57% of all Vancouverites surveyed said they could tolerate a tax increase of up to 7% next year. If this were to happen, it would more than cover the existing budget shortfall...and more.
The city survey was conducted by Mustel Group Market Research and it indicates:
- About 6-in-10 homeowners are willing to accept a 6% increase (61%), and just slightly fewer would tolerate a 7% increase (57%).
- With a 4% tax increase – about 7-in-10 are in acceptance (70%).
- With a 2% hike – around 8-in-10 would be willing to pay 2% more (82%).
It's nothing short of amazing that 6/10 Vancouverites would be prepared to accept a 7% tax increase if it means protecting cherished programs and services offered by the city.
On a side note, CKNW is reporting this morning that Dr. Joseph Wosk, a well respected local Vancouver philanthropist, was never contacted by the Park Board regarding his offer of $100,000 to keep the Stanley Park petting zoo open for the kids:
Is it too small for them? Is it too insignificant? For whatever reason they don't see the value in it, but I know there are tens of thousands of people in the city who do see benefit, I know sponsors that we could get.
Last week the Vision commissioners on the Park Board actually defeated a motion by NPA Commissioner Ian Robertson asking that staff open discussions with Wosk to see how the contribution could be put to good use. Other than having been dictated to do so by the Mayor's office, nobody can understand why they weren't open to seeking new funding to save the petting zoo.
We'll be reviewing the budget carefully over the weekend and provide you with some in-depth analysis over the coming week.