Opinion

Municipal infrastructure upgrade is crucial to all of us

The City of Parksville budget discussions have once again referred to a need for increased funding for infrastructure. The Chamber applauds the City’s vision in improving infrastructure and their current attention to core services, water, sewer and roads. Core services are the building blocks of a city and the ability for the city to remain sustainable.

The Chamber is a supporter of the triune approach to sustainability – Environmental, Social and Economic. It is vital that there be a balance of these three elements in business and government. The consequence of forgetting to include the economic leg is referred to in an article by Elizabeth Nickson reporting on the Island Trust’s stranglehold on the Gulf Islands and the impact that has had on development. She cites an example of stifled development gone bad in a small community in upstate New York and shares the 30 year results stating “the population is aging, a school closes every 18 months, private business has fled, there is no internet or cell phone coverage, young people have left, property tax revenues crashed, welfare and social service requirements have spiked”. Does this sound familiar? While we still have internet and cell service and business has not completely fled we are an aging community; we are tax challenged to fund infrastructure and we face the threat of school closure.

75 per cent of the current tax burden falls to residential property owners and 25% falls to business. This is not because business is not paying their share, as the mill rate for business is 2 ½ times that of residential; it is because the commercial tax base or the number of taxable commercial properties is too small.

We have a downtown core that is ripe for revitalization, we have an industrial park with space and we have an existing vibrant business community. So what is missing? The missing link is the drive to achieve excellence; the co-operative spirit to work together to achieve excellence and the willingness to step out and look at new alternatives to achieve excellence.

There are several proposals currently under consideration at City Hall now; proposals going through the process of community approval through public hearings. These proposals offer an opportunity to expand the commercial tax base, provide walkable access to shopping for nearby residents and greatly improve the look of a major entrance to our city. In addition there will be short term construction jobs and the opportunity to attract businesses that will provide long term jobs, jobs that we need in order to attract young people to our community.

 

The Chamber encourages participation in the Public Hearing process.

 

 

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