57% of Vancouverites are fine with 7% tax increase over service cuts

Post by Daniel Fontaine in

7 comments

pets
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.

7 Comments

if residents are willing to accept a 7% increase in taxes, then why are they howling about taking on the taxes unfairly attributed to the commercial property owner. Seems to me we should all take a closer look at the idea of everyone paying their fair share and then see who wants to take on more taxes after that.

Right now, residents pay about 50 cents on the dollar for every service they consume. No wonder they want all the services retained. They are always half price!

I'm seeing 63% saying they would be OK with a 7% Property Tax Increase (bottom of page 23), not 57%. But that is only for those telephone survey responders who were at the $900K assessed value level. What about higher or lower assessed values - why pick $900K for the summary?
Nice to see that the public input to the process included a statistically unreliable web survey and public meetings where as few as 6 people attended. How many more times do we have to say "Stop drawing lines in the sand, raise the taxes 5%, and protect our services?"

With all due respect guys, I fail to see how Vision's myopia and laziness is "right-wing". It isn't and it's not the first time you have misread this. Daniel has reported on Bill Good that with respect to fiscal matters they embrace the "right", but it's just not true.

A "right wing" position would be a principled trimming of fat to realize efficiencies and not gutting programs to fund their pals and their own pet projects.

Vision have blown it and if the NPA or another vehicle is built and properly funded, you can say goodbye to at least four of their councillors. Not to mention that COPE are already making plans and painting signs.

It's easy just to make cuts. But GOOD govts can always find inefficiencies and eliminate them. There is a huge vast difference between the two.

Alex,

You are perhaps describing what happens when a group of left-leaning politicians publicly claim to be middle of the road, then clumsily pretend to govern from the right.

At the end of the day their supporters are left wondering who's in office? As for the public...they just get mad.

Re: Vision getting kicked out of office in 2011...I've said in the past it's Robertson's to lose. However, if he keeps governing like this over the next 12 months or so...you may well be on track with your prediction. I agree a good candidate and political machine would give them a huge run for their money!

"..why Vision has moved so far to the right in such a short period of time.." - this is naive thinking - Gregor pretended to be left of centre just to get elected. Once in power his true colors quickly began to show. Unfortunately he also fooled Andrea Reimer... who's reputation has now been damaged due to Gregor Inc. calling the shots.

As a someone who used to vote COPE, then switched to Vision, I am going back to COPE. I can't believe I wasted my vote supporting what I thought was going to be a progressive government. My worry is COPE is going to be crushed by Vision in the next election. What a shame as progressives will have nobody to vote for.

The obvious solution is to have progressive property tax rates so that the budget deficit is covered by expensive properties. If that lowers property values then it helps to make Vancouver housing more affordable.

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