George Le Masurier photo

The Week: Comox Valley tax rates, plastic bags and pro golfers

May 3, 2019 | Commentary, News

By George Le Masurier

Happy Friday, the first one in May. Golfers hoping to qualify for the Canadian equivalent of the PGA, called the McKenzie Tour, play their final round today at Crown Isle. Big crowds are not expected, but low scores are anticipated from the top 10 who start teeing off around noon.

WHIMPERING ABOUT TAXES— Courtenay City Council recently approved a new financial plan that calls for a 2.75 percent tax increase. They did it not with a bang, but with a mild whimper from Councillor Mano Theos.

During last fall’s municipal elections certain candidates, including Theos, expressed outrage at the city’s high tax rate — which was actually “fake news” because Courtenay’s taxes are in line with neighboring municipalities and lower than some.

But that didn’t stop the handful of members of the Comox Valley Taxpayers Alliance from purchasing big print advertisements criticizing city tax rates.

Nor did it stop candidates like Theos, Tom Grant and Murray Presley and others from jumping on the “Lower Our Taxes!” bandwagon. That has always been the lazy candidates’ campaign slogan.

But where were these people during this year’s budget discussions? They didn’t show up at the meetings where budgets and tax rates were discussed.

It’s easy to say you’re in favor of lower taxes, because who isn’t? But does anyone know the magic formula for lowering taxes without cutting services that would cause broader concern, and hardship?

Courtenay Mayor Bob Wells answered Theos simply and sharply.

“When you say that people want lower taxes, when I look at you Councillor Theos, I want the solution to that as well, not just a comment that it should be lower taxes ….”

SPEAKING OF TAXES — Comox Mayor Russ Arnott proudly stated during last fall’s election campaign that the town’s taxes were on a declining trend. He was wrong, of course, the town’s taxes have been going up like every other municipality.

And the Town of Comox’s new financial plan calls for a 3.3 percent increase. Higher than Courtenay’s, for those keeping score.

CLIMATE EMERGENCY — Comox Valley youth are marching at 1 pm today to, as their poster says, “Protest against climate change.” What they actually mean is they want elected officials to take swifter and bolder action to reduce the human activity that is accelerating climate change.

Adults have asked all local councils to declare climate emergencies. None have complied, so far.

But the United Kingdom is taking the lead. The UK Parliament passed a motion this week declaring a climate and environment emergency. They are the first country to do so.

SLOW ON THE DRAW — It’s nice to see Comox Valley municipalities finally getting around to banning single-use plastic bags, about 15 years after European cities and countries started eliminating them.

Better late than never, right? Except, Cumberland is the only municipality to have passed a ban so far. Comox and Courtenay are still “studying” the issue.

What’s to study? This movement started around 2000 and 127 nations have imposed bans or taxes on single-use plastic bags. New York and California have banned them statewide. So has Hawaii, on a county by county basis.

Maine recently became the first state to officially ban single use styrofoam. Even the staid City of Victoria has implemented a bag ban.

Filmy shopping bags often go airborne and eventually get eaten by wildlife. In marine environments, sea turtles confused plastic bags for jellyfish, their diet staple. Fish eat them. Whales have died as a result of swallowing plastic bags. A whale near the Philippines was found recently with more than 88 pounds of plastic in its stomach.

And do not be fooled by claims about biodegradable plastic bags. New studies have shown these bio-bags survived three years in soil and sea, and were still intact enough to carry normal weights of garbage. Compostable bags fare better, according to the study, disappearing after three months in a marine environment. But they both break down into micro-plastics and get into our food chain.

The solution is to ban all plastic shopping bags. Comox Valley people are capable of using reusable bags as others are doing.

WAR DECLARED ON CANADA — Finally, this week, Filipino president Rodrigo Duterte declared war on Canada.

Why? Because Canada shipped 103 containers of what was supposed to be recycling material, but actually contained Canadian garbage. Duterte — who once suggested gunning down drug dealers in the streets — called for a fight with Canada. “We’ll declare war,” he said.

He gave Canada one week to take the household garbage back or go to war.

The man has a good reason to be angry. The containers were shipped six years ago and have been rotting and stinking up his country since 2013.

After his initial meltdown, Duterte has extended the deadline for war, and soften his retaliation. He’s given us another week, and then he’ll shipped the crap back to us and dump it on “Canada’s beautiful beaches.”

This article has been updated

 

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