Opinion

EDITORIAL: Election issues in Parksville

Parksville Mayor Chris Burger isn’t ready to say, either way, if he will run for re-election in November.

He has no problem, however, identifying what could be key issues for voters.

One of those that could be hot is what kind of tax exemption, if any, should be given to non-profit organizations in the city. The Legion, curling club and lawn bowling club have been front and centre in the discussion lately, but the effects could be wider reaching.

Burger and others at city hall seem to want to dump the new policy at the feet of the council advisory committee that brought it to the table after a request from council for them to look into the matter.

At the end of the day it was the elected officials who made the decision, and the buck stops with them.

Burger, to his credit, doesn’t see it as a dead issue.

“It should be an election discussion,” Burger told us last week. “Perhaps we have misread the community. There are valid points on both sides.”

City council painted itself into a corner by setting a hard number for the total dollars of all tax exemptions allowed, $225,000. So, they had to fit all the round pegs into the square hole of that hard cap.

And, what’s worse, they set up categories where some groups — social services agencies and churches, for example — were treated differently than others like the curling club. You can present a good argument that people who keep active by curling or lawn bowling save the health system and social services agencies a lot of money.

And for some, with all due respect to religious organizations, the curling or hockey rink is their church.

As Burger said, there are good arguments on both sides. The city might say they it deliver the services it delivers if it exempts all non-profits. Really? We have yet to find a person who says he/she would be opposed to another $20 on their annual property tax bill in order to spare the non-profits.

Regardless, we expect this issue will raise its head during the municipal elections, and we hope each and every candidate presents a clear position.

— Editorial by John Harding

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