To some 2007 is the year of the pig, to Squamish it appears to be the year of the Tax crisis. Of course, in times like this, nothing brings the people of Squamish together quite like the blame game. The biggest star of which is our Mayor Ian Sutherland. Now, of course a good hunk o’ blame can be slapped on his shoulders, but previous leaders, such as Mayor Corrine Lonsdale was no slouch herself.
Truth of the matter is, we are a victim of our towns legendary stubbornness and lack of vision. Anyone with half a clue could see that the forest industry was on it’s last legs long ago. It was then we had the opportunity to strategically put industry and development in place to ease the transition. Sadly, Squamish chose the route of giving our industrial park land to retail and ignorantly fighting anything that wasn’t forestry related.
Now we’re nothing short of screwed by our historic lack of backbone. I can even remember Mal-Wart enthusiasts proudly proclaiming we needed the big box giant to come to town for the jobs and taxes. Too bad we decided to all but pay them to come to town, practically giving the land away and getting nothing in return. Then Ian’s New Directions were elected for many reasons, one being their promise that if Mal-Wart arrived they would pay for the privilege. Chalk it up to more political pillow talk. Sadly, the best time to implement a big box tax was before the deal was inked. However, as weak as our political will appears, I refuse to think it’s impossible to expect, nay demand, big boxes pay more than their fair, square footage, share.
The only other bright light in our town is the new University. Oh, that’s right, they’re not paying taxes either but at least they’re making fat cash off real estate developments. Which brings us to our condo building explosion which is obviously giving our community nothing but unsustainable growth. Out of town developers are hysterically laughing all the way to the bank while we once again stand around like a bunch of yokels with our pants around our ankles.
So, how do we deal with the situation? Perhaps we could look to the Federal and Provincial governments for tax cutting examples. It would appear the best people to hit are non voters, so first thing you do is hit children programs and hit them hard. And don’t forget to slash the elderly and the handicapped who are always easy pickings. On second thought, viciously hurting children may work for the Conservatives and Provincial Liberals but I sincerely hope we're not that far down the slope in Squamish… yet.
No, the only way out of this mess is for council to trim the fat and go after the rich meat. Unfortunately for us, it’s far easier to gouge small businesses, residents, and families who utilize the recreation center then it is to touch the big game.