We’re #3!!

Ron Bolin: Nov. 24, 2013

In 2013, Nanaimo was the third highest in the Province, climbing up from fifth place in 2008.  What a struggle to climb to this heady height beating out such competitors as Vancouver, Victoria and Surrey!  Council and Staff at City Hall have worked hard to beat those rivals and, no doubt, will work even harder to continue our climb to the top.

What, you may ask, is the area in which Nanaimo blazes such a trail?  Why it’s in the field of the highest per capita tax burdens in BC.  And surely with the help of continuing subsidies to theatre, sport and business and additions to Staff we can soon reach the top.  After all, we climbed from fifth place in 2008 to third place in only five years.

From what biased source are these figures taken?  From the records of BC Stats, our provincial government’s set of statistics regarding municipalities.  This particular statistic on the tax burden can be found at:   http://www.cscd.gov.bc.ca/lgd/infra/tax_rates/tax_rates2013.htm.  To reach this conclusion from the very lengthy set of detailed information contained in the pertinent Tax Burden Excel worksheet found there, I looked at the Total Municipal Tax burden for Cities of 30,000 or more.

Nanaimo’s per capita tax burden in 2013, the figure which put us in third place in the province for high taxes, was $1023.  This figure includes only direct municipal taxes does not include the range of other taxes which are collected by the city but are not a part of its total tax burden which includes things like: Schools, BC Assessment, Municipal Finance Authority, Regional District General, Regional District Parks, Regional District Sewer Benefiting Area, Regional Hospital District, and Regional Parks and Trails Parcel Taxes.  Nor does it include the many other ways in which money can be extracted from ratepayers by way of fees or other assessments such as for water, sewer, garbage collection, fees for facility use, etc..

Similar data can be found for the years from 2005.  In 2008, for example, Nanaimo had, at $886, the fifth highest municipal tax burden in BC.  But you can’t keep a busy Civic Administration down and we climbed to number three in 2013, exceeded only by Prince George ($1,096) and Kamloops ($1,031).  Interestingly some other, less outstanding, examples include Victoria ($1011), Vancouver ($958), Kelowna ($892), Penticton ($752) and Surrey ($516).

Now with this exemplary record for extracting funds from citizens shouldn’t we expect that all is well with the well-being of Nanaimo’s population and find ourselves among the more favoured of BC’s municipalities in this area as well.  Unfortunately an examination of the statistics at BC Stats quickly disabuses us of that fantasy.  An examination of such statistics as Children at Risk, Percent on Income Assistance, and Overall Human Economic Hardship puts Nanaimo in the worst quintile (20%) of problem municipalities in all these categories.

Think about it.  Is something wrong with this picture?  Are these the trends we want to see continue?  It is budget time at City Hall.  Are we going to demand change or is our path to simultaneously become both the best and the worst to be continued???   (To be continued)

We look forward to your comments and views on the causes and the effects of City policies in these areas and what might, if anything needs, be done about them.