Drive Out the Tax campaign – Sponsored by Vancouver’s Most Hypocritical & Inept Business Organizations!

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Subways & metros cost a lot of money to build and operate.

In the Vancouver Sun today is an article about an anti-TransLink parking tax revolt, the Drive out the tax coalition, sponsored by the Downtown BIA, The Board of Trade and others. What a bunch of hypocrites; what a bunch of inept businessmen, for it was a loose coalition of the very same groups that glad-handed the almost $3 billion RAV/Canada Line subway, which has now landed TransLink in deep financial do-do. TransLink, burdened with the costs of operating a very expensive subway on a route, that does not have the ridership to sustain it, has to be heavily subsidized and TransLink has to raise the funds by increasing regional taxes and implementing parking taxes, etc.

The realities of metro only construction in the region are coming home to roost and the taxpayer is going to find out very soon that the very organizations that cheered on RAV and SkyTrain and now demanding a UBC SkyTrain subway are the very same organization THAT DO NOT WANT TO PAY FOR IT!

Zwei has a message for the Board of Trade, the Downtown Business Improvement Association: Quit your sniveling – You wanted metro; your supported metro being forced on the region; you cheered on metro construction even when it bankrupted small merchants along Cambie Street – QUIT YOUR SPOILED AND INCESSANT WHINING AND PAY YOUR FAIR SHARE OF TRANSIT TAXES- YOU WANTED METRO, NOW PAY FOR IT!

Business chiefs launch attack on parking tax

Protest campaign with mass appeal hits the streets today

By Don Cayo, Vancouver Sun January 6, 2010

Aslickly organized protest against the tripling of the provincial sales tax on parking is hitting the streets this morning.

Signs. Brochures. Anti-tax advocates manning the entrance to pay parkades throughout Metro Vancouver. A sophisticated website and social media campaign. Pre-programmed cellphones for parkade customers to inundate politicians’ and bureaucrats’ inboxes with their personalized protests.

All of this is focused to showcase some hard-hitting facts and analysis that build the case that this tax is too narrowly focused and unfair. The coalition also trains a harsh spotlight on TransLink’s performance. One poster decries how TransLink’s administrative costs have risen 101 per cent since 2002, how its debt has tripled, and how its board members are paid $1,200 a day. A background paper shows how, despite TransLink’s best efforts to get people onto transit, the number of cars in the region has been growing twice as fast as the number of people for the past 15 years.

But this campaign is also aimed at the provincial government, which has given TransLink the authority to impose the tax. And it will be hard for Victoria to ignore for at least three reasons:

– The organizers represent Metro Vancouver’s business elite — usually a B.C. Liberalfriendly crowd.

The 30 groups who’ve formed the coalition — and membership is still growing — range from the Building Owners and Managers Association, which represents owners of most of the big downtown buildings that will be hardest hit, to the Board of Trade.

– There is mass appeal to what they’re saying. E-mail response to earlier Vancouver Sun reports and columns on this subject — not to mention what parking garage staff report they’re hearing — indicates this issue has the potential to fire up a lot of voters.

– The solid base of research on which the case against the tax is based. The coalition behind the protest has marshalled the data to support its contention that this tax is unfair.

Three years ago, public outrage shot TransLink down on a parking-related tax proposal — the other infamous parking tax that would have hit every flat space owned by any business in the region. At that time, the Greater Vancouver Transit Authority Act was amended to allow a gas tax increase that was to be “balanced fairly between road users, transit riders and property taxpayers.”

Which, a lot of coalition members thought at the time, sounded reasonable. But they are a lot less happy with how the idea of “balancing” the burden between the three groups is playing out.

First, when the initial parking tax proposal was withdrawn, $9 million of additional taxes was added to the tax bills for downtown commercial properties. It remains in place.

Then the tax load to cover the remaining shortfall was divided into thirds–even though these three groups are very unequal in size, which dramatically affects the impact on each group member.

The upshot is that all of the drivers in Metro Vancouver have to chip in to pay one-third of the money TransLink needs through a 25-per-cent, or three-cent-a-litre, gas tax increase.

All transit riders will pay another third through fare increases that will total seven per cent over three years.

A couple of hundred downtown business properties with parkades will bear the brunt of the remaining third.

Of course, as Mike Bishop, the president of BOMA BC and a leader of this protest, points out, it’s the customers who park in those businesses’ parkades that ultimately pay the tax.

Hence, the mass appeal for this Drive Out the Tax campaign. And hence the risk that the decision to impose this tax will backfire in two ways.

Charles Gauthier, executive director of the Downtown Vancouver Business Improvement Association and another coalition spokesman, notes that parking operators are already reporting that some long-term customers aren’t renewing their contracts. These operators expect their total losses from long-and short-term customers to hit 20 per cent if the tax stays in place. This would mean less tax than anticipated will be collected, which in turn will hit TransLink’s revenue where it hurts.

Gauthier also points out that piling so much of the tax burden onto the people who use so few facilities adds to the pressure for businesses to flee downtown for the suburbs. This is already happening and has led to a “pickup sticks” pattern of rush-hour traffic. This kind of traffic grid is almost impossible to serve with cost-effective, efficient transit.

This trend will frustrate TransLink’s attempts to get its costs under control, as well as the broader objective of encouraging more drivers to leave their cars at home.

Bishop said a coalition website ( http://www.driveoutthetax.com)was going public this morning. Also, there will be new protest signs and brochures at all pay parking facilities. In addition, workers with specially programmed cell-phones would be on duty, encouraging customers to message TransLink and their local mayors to register their objections to the tax.

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10 Responses to “Drive Out the Tax campaign – Sponsored by Vancouver’s Most Hypocritical & Inept Business Organizations!”

  1. Calvin Fox Says:

    all this tax can be averted by simply reigning in Translink administrative costs. in particular over the top executive wages and bonuses, Enough is enough.

    Zweisystem replies: Rubbish! Just the SkyTrain system is subsidized by over $230 million annually. RAV/Canada Line is adding to the burden. TransLink’s financial woes are far deeper than administration costs. Metro, subway or elevated, are just not expensive to build, but expensive to maintain and operate. Why do you think that American chap who was CEO took a powder and “got out of Dodge fast.” TransLink huge debt burden, mainly due to metro, is sinking the ship.

  2. Cass Lao Says:

    Ridiculous, I don’t think it’s fair to raise the parking tax to 21% as there are many other taxes increase this year. Living in Vancouver is more and more expensive but our salary has no increase excerpt those people are working at the government. I don’t think Vancouver is the most desirable city to live anymore.

    Zweisystem replies: Those who want expensive metro must pay for it, simple economics. You can’t expect Valley residents to forever subsidize Vancouver’s extravagant metro system.

  3. Jim Says:

    Sure they can 😛 I mean do.

  4. David Says:

    You aren’t paying for it Jim because you’re in Abbotsford and Shirley Bond hasn’t extended the mandate of TransLink to your part of the valley yet 😉

    Someone has to pay for the SkyTrain/RAV system. I think a parking tax is a fine way to recover some of the money. Better that than further increases to my residential property taxes.

    I do want to present a slightly different perspective. Metro projects benefit long distance commuters far more than short distance ones so while Vancouver has a lot of the track, we don’t get as much out of it as others do. Those who have easy access to the trains also get to “enjoy” the noise and crime that it brings to their neighbourhoods. There have been a lot of violent assaults in the area surrounding Nanaimo and 29th Ave stations.

  5. David Says:

    Do this business groups offer any alternatives other than raising my taxes?

    At least they’ve noticed that car usage continues to climb. Who knows, within a century or two maybe they’ll have figured out that pouring all that money into the wrong kind of transit while the suburbs fought each other to introduce the most isolated business parks caused the problem. Business organizations tend to prove the rule that the IQ of a mob is half that of it’s lowest member.

  6. Jim Says:

    You’re right David, I’m lucky 🙂

  7. Brian Bundridge Says:

    If I read some where, the Canada Line is now making even on operating costs. They’ll need to get that 3rd middle car soon at the rate of growth they are achieving.

    Zweisysten replies: Don’t believe what you hear or read, the Canada line is no way near paying its operating costs and the taxpayer has to shell out $25 million or so annually to pay for the metro.

  8. Rod Smelser Says:

    Zwei, … where does on go for credible figures on the expenses and revenues of various components of the overall Translink system? In the past I have seen figures for the various modes, but IIRC they don’t attempt to compute a per-passenger-kilometre cost or revenue. The data was all for some kind of average trip, regardless of length.

    Regarding the downtown businesses and their organized protest against the parking tax, I don’t know if you’ve seen in person how they are going about it. They have hired a small squadron of young women, all blondes it seems, and fitted them out in sharply contrasting, jet-black team jackets with the sexy slogan “Drive out the tax” emblazooned across the back.

    These girls are then detailed to hand out exciting pamphlets to all the Benz and Beemer commuters from Pt Grey and West Van who gravitate to the downtown garages. As I am sure you will agree, people of that calibre can hardly be expected to disgrace themselves by travelling at the steerage on public transit.

    Zweisytem Replies: Getting credible figures for the metro system is very difficult and TransLink likes it that way.

    As for the well heeled types and public transit, in Europe, it is LRT that attracts the “Benz and Beemer” types to transit, not bus or metro. ‘Bistro’ cars anyone? Yes Bistro or café cars can be operated to give the premium commuter a premium service. This has lead to the Renaissance of LRT/tramway’s in Europe and as always, we are 40 to 50 years behind the times.

  9. Rod Smelser Says:

    Bistro Cars? We have Capucino cars now on the West Coast Express, the service that all transportation experts in Vancouver, whether with Translink or not, dislike intensely because it fails to meet the doctrinal needs of any approved version of “Vancouverism”. We also have washrooms, something denied to everyone who uses Skytrain/RAV or buses.

    Zweisystem replies: Yes, German LRT lines are known to have Bistro cars, serving coffee and light refreshments, they also have a WC. In Europe, transit is designed to what the customer wants, almost unheard of here.

  10. Rod Smelser Says:

    About ten years ago my wife answered a phone survey from Translink. Among the questions she was asked were ones about possible washrooms and refreshments at major bus yards, such as the Coquitlam Centre Station. It was the last we ever heard of either idea.

    I can understand the concerns about washrooms, the costs of keeping them clean, problems with drunks and addicts, prostitutes and clients, etc., etc. But if you want to attract a wider ridership maybe you need to consider those costs as necessary part of doing business.

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