I received a few e-mails asking that I clarify my position with respect to the article "Just a Bit More Balance, Please" published last week in The View as it relates to Lake Country. I am happy to do so with this blog.

The article, which was written by Tom MacDonald in Victoria, was not at all concerned with Lake Country business or the Lake Country Chamber. It was a general reflection on the economic crisis and reactions to it, including some from a number of local government officials.

The issue in the article was about the continuous reports from the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) about businesses being taxed too much by local governments and statements by CFIB with respect to the value-for-money from local governments in general. The Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) has tried to counter CFIB claims (for a copy of the UBCM report on CFIB claims please go to Comments on Fiscal Management in BC Municipalities) and I did have some discussion with provincial staff on the Premier's position about local governments. In my opinion, CFIB comments are one sided. There are not only issues with local governments taxation systems, if you wish, but also with the way both federal and provincial governments are dealing with the economic crisis and the impact (or not) on the work force and the taxpayers. Having said that, I believe that:

The 2008 bailout was wrong and created a bigger gap between the middle class and big corporations. In fact the Occupy Wall Street' which the article talks about was a reaction to the way the bailout money was utilized;
The small and medium businesses came out with the short end of the stick in the current economic crisis;
The issue of taxation is real for business and residential taxpayers alike but small business is also struggling more than others because of the economic crisis and cannot afford more taxes and rightly questions the value-for-money for the services they receive (or not) from local governments;
All taxpayers are reaching a capacity limit in what they can pay to sustain community and all governments services;
We need to work together to find solutions. Conflictual positions do not help.

In Lake Country we need more business and more economic growth. We cannot be sustainable on residential tax base only. It just does not work. In addition, the existing businesses cannot afford to pay more or they will collapse. Furthermore, I know and I appreciate much of the hard work and countless volunteer hours that members of the business community and the Chamber provide to Lake Country. I don't think a community could really be such without those contributions.

I understand the issues the District of Lake Country is facing and I will continue to work with all stakeholders to make our community an even better place for residents, tourism and business investment. As a supporter of Community News, I will continue to make an effort in cutting back our budget to relieve the taxpayers of unnecessary tax increases, and I am confident the new Council will make the right decisions for the community on this. The vision is there and I will pursue it with vigor. Finally, I also hope that we can all support the efforts of our good District staff, recognizing that adjustments need to be made to the organization and work together to make those adjustments. Cooperation is the key and our partnership with the Lake Country Chamber of Commerce and other important stakeholders in the community will be critical to accomplish our goal of creating a unique place to live.