Drive out the tax campaign hitting its stride

Post by Daniel Fontaine in

8 comments

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Local business owners say enough is enough when it comes to the 21% tax Robertson and his TransLink colleagues imposed on parking lots in Vancouver

Last week Vancouver's business community launched their Drive Out the Tax campaign aimed at getting Mayor Gregor Robertson to reverse his decision to support a 21% tax on local parking lots. As far as grassroots campaigns go, this one seems to be gathering a bit of momentum.

We contacted the organizers this evening to see how the first few days of their lobbying was going. They told us that within the first few days, their website received over 4000 hits. Over 52% of all website visitors registered to send an email to Gregor Robertson and TransLink regarding their decision. Just under 500 people have already contacted the 1-877-35NOTAX line and left a message with Robertson's office to register a complaint.

The anti-tax campaign has also caught the attention of lone NPA councillor Suzanne Anton. According to a media release issued earlier today, Anton is bringing forward a motion to fight Robertson's tax. She states:

The burden of this new tax falls overwhelmingly on parking and businesses in the City of Vancouver because that is where all the pay parking is located. It encourages businesses to locate outside of Vancouver where the parking is free. This is not a good environmental solution. He [Gregor Robertson] completely failed to defend the interests of the City of Vancouver. The Mayor talks about supporting business but fails to act.

 Anton's motion to council states:

WHEREAS

1. Translink has imposed a parking sales tax of 21% on pay parking;
2. The tax overwhelmingly applies to parking in the City of Vancouver;
3. The tax is very detrimental to businesses in Vancouver which rely on pay
parking;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED

THAT Vancouver City Council requests that Translink cancel the 21% pay parking
tax and restore the tax to previous levels.

On their facts page, campaign organizers take direct aim at TransLink, who they claim is bloated with senior administrators. Here is an excerpt:

Translink according to the Comptroller Generals report has been responsible for :

  • A tripling of the debt since 2005.

  • Expenses growing by 3.5 times ridership.

  • Administrative costs growing at 101% since 2002.

  • No cost reduction targets in place for ‘09 and despite targets in ‘10 costs still growing by 2.7% almost double inflation.

CityCaucus.com has learned that Robertson is choked with the business community's anti-tax campaign considering he just provided them with a tax break in the recent 2010 budget. As fellow blogger Frances Bula eluded to in a recent post, the Mayor and his advisors are also peeved that they provided the corporate community with a tax shift, but they never bothered to show up to council to voice their support. If this sentiment lingers into the next budget cycle, you can expect that Vision's support for the tax shift will wain before the next election.

It should be noted that Robertson didn't even bother to show up to the Mayor's Council meeting for TransLink where they approved increasing revenues by $130 million dollars. Had he attended, it would have provided him with an opportunity to debate the merits of the 21% parking tax. He opted to send councillor Geoff Meggs to make the tough decisions instead.

For his part, Meggs has publicly chastised the downtown business community for their opposition to the tax hike. He states on his blog:

Of course, businesses won’t pay the taxes themselves, they’ll pass them on to the drivers. And year after year, Vancouver has some of the cheapest downtown parking in Canada. Calgary, Montreal, Toronto and Edmonton are all more expensive and as for New York and London . . . don’t ask.

As for the Drive Out the Tax campaign, it will be interesting to see if they can sustain the kind of interest they generated right out of the gate over the longer-term. If they do, Robertson can expect a lot more emails and phone calls demanding he soften his position on what the business community is calling an investment killing tax grab.

8 Comments

Squawking about a 21% tax for parking lots? That's nothing. Wait until the Olympic bills come in. The whole city tax will probably reach that level.

Since Gregor's new parking tax was imposed, I calculate I've already paid an additional $12.50 of taxes to TransLink. And it's only Jan 14th!!! This is on top of his 5% property tax increase. What is the rate of inflation? 1%?? Show's you the NDP can't run a popsicle stand.

Well, you gotta pay for Translink somehow. Over the years transit fares have been increased much more the tax on parking, even at the 21% rate since January.

That dastardly Robertson!

How dare he not "even bother to show up to the Mayor's Council meeting!"

BC Finance Minister Colin Hansen is COMPLETELY blameless in this whole debacle, huh?

The whole thing have been avoided if Mayor Robertson went to a TransLink meeting instead of Geoff Meggs, eh?

Here's an idea: target your beloved leader Gordon Campbell and finance Minister Colin Hansen as the real architects behind the tax hike.

Vision supporters will stop at nothing when it comes to pointing fingers across the pond or at the previous NPA. If you believe all their rhetoric, Gordon Campbell is to blame for everything that goes wrong. Just suck it up buttercups and accept responsibility for your OWN decisions. Robertson's 21% tax sucks. End of story.

If gas goes to $2/litre, it's still cheaper for me to drive farther out to the Home Depot on Terminal than to patronize the mostly empty one on Cambie. Suck in those extra fumes Visionistas!

I think the campaign has missed a part of it's stride. A huge number of the downtown parkers work in the financial markets. Most of us are here before 6:30am. No sign of any campaigners reaching out to that group at that hour, and having seen a single one when leaving at 5pm.

EasyParks' year end review had this interesting tidbit:
"Over the past several months, there has been conflicting information about the future of this
tax on parking once the Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) comes into effect on July 1, 2010. While
there is considerable uncertainty, at the time this report was written, media reports assert
that this tax will continue. It is possible that the combined effective tax rate on parking as of
July 1, 2010 could reach 35.52%. This rate would contain three components: federal (5%),
provincial (7%), and Translink (21%)"

A possible 35.52% tax rate!

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