Trick or Treat!

Ron Bolin:  October 31, 2011

Tonight is the goblins big night and at tonight’s Council meeting, we can find a belated report and draft bylaw for first and second reading on the topic: “REVITALIZATION TAX EXEMPTION BYLAW 2011 NO. 7143”, which fills their bill.  It is appropriate that this is Halloween.  This bylaw proposes to make motels and hotels that spend at least $2 million in either approved construction or renovation free from property taxes for up to ten years.  In effect, they come to council with their goody bag saying “Trick or Treat” and Council can, at their discretion, give them a treat from those they collect from you and I.

I was curious when I read our Mayor’s statement that his big wish for Nanaimo was a new hotel to go with the conference centre.  I was puzzled when I saw that the Maffeo Sutton and Piper’s  Park goodies were taken off the table.  Now the other shoe has fallen.  We see that cash is king.  I need wonder no longer.

What ever happened to capitalism?  The idea of profit has been taken over by the idea of subsidy. The government is in charge of winners and losers:  and we know who the losers are.   It is impossible to run an economy for any length of time on subsidies as we are finding all over the world to our sorrow.  If the corporate, often very large corporate, owners of a hotel or a motel can’t afford to build, renovate and operate it, how can we, in a city with one of the highest child poverty rates in the province, afford to subsidize it?  Tax exemptions are not free.  They simply divide the expense of the gift among the rest of us making our taxes higher and pushing those already on the margin over the edge.

This is not a game in which we should be playing.  We are already heavily subsidizing the Conference Centre.  What comes next a Multiplex?  How gullible are we?