To the Premier, Finance Minister and MLA for Howe Sound
As a member of the School Tax Action Committee, a small group of concerned citizens established in Whistler in 1991, I have had the opportunity to witness first hand the efforts of our municipal council and citizens to lobby the provincial government on our behalf. The goal was to redress the grossly inequitable school tax problem that has existed in Whistler for well over a decade. Recently there have been many meetings and briefs between Whistler and Victoria representatives. The information given the government was clear, to the point and without rebuttal. We were told that Whistler's problem was going to receive some kind of recognition this year. "Trust us," we were told.
It has been made evident to me with the new budget that there has been absolutely no provision for the tax inequity problem. Though the government understands the depth of the inequity (the case for gross inequities has been too well documented) it has refused to come to terms with the deep impact on Whistler's social fabric and economic future because of the "optics" of providing relief to beleaguered resident property owners and tenants who could be perceived by the public at large as wealthy and undeserving. Better to let Whistler's problem slide than to be seen to be granting relief to the rich and wealthy!
Rather than deal with a long-term structural anomaly or property taxation in Whistler, they, the government, have embraced the "optics" as an excuse to not act. It is a "built-in" reason to do nothing. But why do nothing? It is for the simple reasons of saving money and having one less item on the agenda to attend to.
I do not want to go too deeply into the specific issues here. They have been well documented by Mr. Garry Watson's letters to the editor before. As a reminder, please remember that Tofino was given relief for the very same problem that Whistler has experienced for years. But picture this: Tofino's average single family assessment exceeded the average in the rest of its school district by 2.3 times. This was the main criterion used to determine the need for taxation adjustment. They received relief. Now picture this: Whistler's average single family assessment exceeded the rest of the district by 4.2 times! We received none. There is no other comparison for school tax inequity in the province that comes even close. It gets better the inequities are growing, just wait until you receive your tax bill this year! The decision to deal with the situation by doing nothing is governed by money and politics, not equity and long-term logical thinking.