I don’t share Mayor Ashton’s good vibes as reported in the news.
1. The tax incentive zones are a direct freeload by developers on the shoulders of residential taxpayers.
Depending on the tier of development there won’t be a charge for building and plumbing- fees, while developers also will enjoy reduced development cost charges and exempt from paying property taxes for five years. There is a direct loss of revenue while potential future gains are vanished at the expense of taxpayers to the benefit of developers. If a business can’t stand on its own, it should not be catered to. I suggest that the lost revenue be recouped by a tax on the benefiting economic sectors and a special levy on the decision makers.
2. Potential increase of 6.24 per cent residential electric rate favoured by staff to the benefit of commercial uses. Last year my electricity bill increased by 6.8 per cent.
I am more than annoyed to read that the electric utility fund is raided every year. Last year $3 million was transferred to the city’s general revenue account to reduce the mill rate with council gloating about their skill to keep the tax rate down.
Electricity revenue ought to be used strictly for its capital works or its surplus revenue used to reduce the electric rate to the benefit of its users.
3. The mayor intends to spruce up the city. For years Dan Ashton has been walking around with blinders on. Apparently he never noticed the despicable decrepit parking lot behind City Hall. Instead of a trendsetter, and an example of a superior landscaping, it is a community embarrassment.
Last April, city council accepted its climate action plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Council apparently is oblivious to the enormous benefit of landscaping and trees which store carbon dioxide and release oxygen. We are witnessing the loss of more and more trees. The first action by the younger generation when purchasing property from the old guard is cutting down the trees. Moreover, the constant pressure by council to reduce water consumption by levying exorbitant water rates results in the conversion of lawns with shrubbery and trees to gravel and rocks with miserly looking xeriscaping, which does nothing towards reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Cutting down trees increases emissions by freeing stored carbon. As I have over 50 mature trees on my property with numerous small trees and extensive shrubbery, I am faced with staggering water bills in the spring and fall because of excessive water use. Instead of being awarded for reducing greenhouse gas, my water bill increased by another 5.13 per cent last year.
The importance of preserving trees was recognized in Canada’s first zoning bylaw adopted in B.C. in 1922 by preventing the destruction of trees. It is more than urgent that council follows Kelowna by adopting a tree preservation bylaw. To increase the urban forestry, Kelowna is considering increasing its tree canopy to 20 per cent by planting 315,000 trees in the next 25 years. The costs for planting new trees will be shared between public and private sources.
Action is needed. Stop increasing water rates for homeowners doing their part to improve the city’s esthetics and reduce greenhouse emissions. Prevent further loss of trees and increase the city’s tree canopy.
Looking at the three above sections, one wonders where the good vibrations are for the fleeced homeowners?