North Cowichan: The Taxman Cometh

North Cowichan’s Council has imprinted a clear left-of-center stamp on our taxation future. Last election we saw a decided and clear shift to a dominant left-wing block of five councillors elected, with only the Mayor and one councillor notionally centrist or conservative.

That Council gave the first three readings, without any real debate, to a five-year financial plan that will see your municipal taxes rocket up over 25%. That’s $9 million. That’s every year. That’s permanent.

Granted, in that amount is the new RCMP building at $48 Million. Even that, though, amortized over, say, 20 years doesn’t require $9 Million per year. Keep in mind that way back, in around 2015, that RCMP building was pitched on a $12M budget, then a $15M, and then $20M before it was approved and the process was begun. The cost now is four times the initial discussion, and more than twice the final price tag upon which the decision was made.

The rest of the increase is essentially adding staff. Not increased services. Not increased facilities. It’s money for nothing. And municipal staff, of course, are fully behind it. Bureaucracies, by nature, tend to metastasize even in the absence of more work because there is no bottom line, no accountability, to keep them in check.

These are the councillors who are increasing your taxes.

Councillor Rob Douglas
Councillor Christopher Justice
Councillor Kate Marsh
Councillor Rosalie Sawrie
Councillor Debra Toporowski

Mayor Siebring and Councillor Manhas were opposed.

People familiar with local politics will recognize this block as the quasi-slate promoted by the unofficial-unspoken-much-denied-but-obviously -true One Cowichan/Greens/NDP political machine(s). ( see here for more) The pattern has been the same the past few elections with One Cowichan doing a “community survey” which purports to define the issues important to the community at large, but in reality is no more than a self-reflecting statement of their own values masquerading as a survey sent to their own mailing list: it’s circular argumentation and confirmation bias at its finest. It is the studied art of agenda setting, the practice of defining the field of battle to your own advantage.

In North Cowichan it takes about 2000-ish votes to be elected to council and 3000-ish for mayor so it’s easy to see how a group like One Cowichan with a large mailing list and like-minded followers drawn from the ranks of up-ticket left-leaning parties can sway the vote with recommendations and endorsements. After all, three of the block above were handily elected first-timers with no notable prior name recognition and meagre advertising presence. The information that has slipped out through the cracks tends to support this idea.

They will deny this to the end, but they are essentially an informal slate. And good on them. They have an agenda and they have found a way to seize control of the floor and now they can implement that agenda. They have used the system to change things their way. We should admire that because that is how our system is supposed to work.

And we voted for it, or at least not enough people voted for something else. And now we are all going to pay for it. Year after year.

It’s an election year; do we change things?

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