Letter to the Editor;
Re: Fire Hall
I’m not sure whether a process that allows 51% to dictate to the 49% constitutes a meaningful democracy but fortunately, the referendum was more decisive than that and revealed two valid positions regarding a new fire hall.
We can speculate that the yes side might consist of people whose financial circumstances are above average, possibly well connected and influential in town decisions and may tend to view large infrastructure projects as progressive enhancements to the community. Often these same people are the ones responsible for getting things done and giving back to the community. Ostensibly though, tax increases for this portion of the population would not be a burden.
Alternatively, the no side may have limited resources and would prefer town financial decisions be addressed with the same careful attitude that has allowed them to survive. It has been demonstrated by comparative analyses the town’s tax burden is sufficiently high for a community this size making any increase potentially concerning.
There are though, other elements that may have influenced the no vote:
Awareness that public projects invariably go over budget.
The false perception that government debt is an inevitable necessity. In 2005 Ralph Klein pronounced Alberta debt free demonstrating that it was possible to govern a province without debt and informing us that this should easily be achievable for a municipality.
The fact that the town does not have autonomy over their own jurisdiction may have exposed them to prejudicial counselling by the province, an entity which demonstrates no fear of debt.
You might characterize the level of government oversight in today’s society as beneficial, but only with respect to lobotomized individuals. One of the areas infected by this oversight are building projects. Bureaucratic zealotry imposed by way of the building code, WorkSafeBC, and fear of litigation have complicated new builds and added to the cost. The guiding principle apparently is to engineer a society in which I am protected from myself.
Priority wise, town infrastructure, roads, and sidewalks, or the lack thereof, could use some attention, and infrastructure being the primary reason for taxation raises questions regarding the allocation of the towns tax dollars. That said, I expect there are many of us who would opt to defer improvements if the towns default position is simply to raise taxes.
When contemplating major infrastructure projects it would seem a reasonable expectation for the town, before initiating plans, to consult with us as partners in a joint-venture rather than pressuring us to accept a plan that had significant time and capital already attached with no Plan B to fall back on.
A verse from the Tao rings true:
“When taxes are too high,
people go hungry,
When the government is too intrusive
people lose their spirit
Act for the people’s benefit;
trust them, leave them alone.
Dan Siemens, Creston