It's important to remember that the city, like the rest of us, has to pay interest on debt in addition to repaying the principal. With more money going to service past debt (interest plus principal), less is available for important municipal services such as garbage collection and policing. That means Vancouverites also "pay" for debt indirectly through reduced services.
A carbon tax increases the cost of gasoline, diesel, and natural gas -- things that both households and businesses rely on, whether to operate their cars, heat their homes, or run their operations. For perspective, B.C.'s current tax of $30 per tonne of CO2 adds roughly seven cents per litre to the cost of gasoline.
Asking for more money is common among municipal officials. Despite soaring transfers from higher level governments, municipalities repeatedly claim they need more because their revenue sources lack growth potential. So how has municipal revenue actually performed over the last 10 years in Metro Vancouver?
The Metro Vancouver regional authority wants to build a massive garbage incinerator at a yet-to-be-determined location that will purposefully pump more smog into the air and burn recycled goods like paper and plastic. And get this, taxpayers are going to have to foot the $470-million bill to breathe it all it all in.
In a triumph for local democracy, the bully that is Metro Vancouver has been put in its proper place by a provincial judge. Metro Vancouver should save its taxpayers some money by forgoing an appeal in this case and accepting the fact that it doesn't always know best. Let's see a little more of this "collaborative federation," and a lot less bullying of elected councils.
Today, close to 70 per cent of all Canadians live in suburbs. Most bought homes early in their adult life. Most raised families. And many are now living alone or with an aging spouse in houses designed for four to six people. The kids have grown and left, so nearby schools are unsupportable, too. Even the strip malls are failing as old neighbourhoods hollow out -- as young buyers head to ever-more distant points in search of the latest "cheap" development.
Bill Bennett, minister responsible for the B.C. government's core review, is trying his darndest lately to reassure British Columbians that the government "has no plans to dismantle" the Agricultural Land Commission and that much of the speculation was simply the result of government "brainstorming." That's nice. Doesn't mean much in government-speak, but it sounds comforting. It's what comes next that should be of concern. In an interview with the Globe and Mail on Tuesday, Bennett confirmed that the Commission would, however, be subject to the government's core review.
Who knew? Count 'em all up and B.C. has 1,660 elected officials sitting on 250 local councils and school boards across the province. That works out to one for every 2,000 registered voters. It's also a lot of paycheques. Some of the lucky ones get to collect two paycheques, if they happen to be chosen to sit on a regional district. The two biggies of course being Metro Vancouver and the Capital Regional District.
Garbage -- or to use the more politically correct term, waste -- is big business. Really big. It can also be a messy business, particularly when politicians get involved. So no big surprise that the left hand doesn't seem to care what the right hand is doing at Metro Vancouver when it comes to regional waste management.
A billion here, a billion there, it adds up. That's the problem with shopping lists. The municipalities that make up Metro Vancouver are facing the same predicament as they try to choose between the bare necessities, luxuries and how you're going to pay for it all. While some of these projects may be sold to the public as "self-supported" that's just political-speak for "you're still picking up the tab." Whether it's through tolls or tipping fees, they're just euphemisms for picking your pocket.