Archive for Local Politics

An Exercise In Futility

Dave Killion — April 20, 2013

Choc Soft Serve ConeThe election campaign for the British Columbia provincial government is officially underway

“B.C. Premier Christy Clark has asked Lieutenant Governor Judith Guichon to dissolve parliament, marking the start of the provincial 28-day election campaign”… “While the official start to the campaign has just begun, party volunteers were already out in full force Tuesday morning working to pick up voter support for the May 14 vote.”

So, voters who are tired of the horse crap they’ve had to tolerate from the Liberals the past years now have the opportunity to switch to bull crap from the New Democrats, and even to increase the amount of chicken crap from the Green Party. No matter the result, it is guaranteed that after the election, BC residents will continue to eat shit.

Surprise! No One Wants A Sewer Plant Built Next Door.

Dave Killion — April 13, 2013

One often hears city planning defended as the means by which citizens are protected from having a slaughterhouse built next door to them. In fact, it is quite the opposite

“The CRD announced last week it had purchased a $17-million industrial property on Viewfield Road, just metres from the Ashes’ home, as a possible site for a sewage processing facility”… “CRD spokesman Andy Orr sympathized with the couple, but said government land deals tend to be done in secret to avoid price speculation”… “While truck traffic is already heavy in the area, (there are) worries about the likelihood of falling property values.”

In situations like this, residents who oppose attempts to force certain projects into their neighbourhoods are frequently derided as NIMBYs (Not In My Back Yard), and criticized for defending their narrow self-interests against the greater good. But consider how different matters would be if this conflict was to be resolved by actors regulated by market forces, rather than a coercive state.

In the latter case, local residents bear a disproportionate burden from the noise, smell, traffic, unsightly buildings, and reduced property values, while the benefits are widely dispersed to others far removed from the project. It is perfectly rational for them to resist. But if those same residents had control over the land use for their immediate area, they would be in a position to receive direct compensation from the operators of the proposed facility. In a case like that, rather than facing local opposition at every possible location, it is likely several communities would actively encourage service providers to consider their neighbourhood. Get the state out of land-use regulation, and you will replace conflict with cooperation.

The First Canadian Property Rights Index

Dave Killion — April 7, 2013

The Frontier Centre For Public Policy has produced The First Canadian Property Rights Index. From the Executive Summary

“Property rights are not absolute. In Canada, they are quite precarious and subject to government regulatory whim, especially since our constitution does not formally protect them as is done in other jurisdictions. However, the common law does provide compensation if land is taken”…. “Canadians ought to care about property rights, because they are connected to our economic well-being and our liberal democratic rights.”

Written by the indomitable Joseph Quesnel, the index considers eight indicators: registering and/or transferring property, expropriation, land-use planning and constructive takings doctrine, municipal power of entry, civil forfeiture, endangered species, successions, and heritage property.

Overall, the state of property rights in Canada is deplorable, with top-ranking Nova Scotia scoring an anemic 68.25%, and beleaguered Prince Edward Island rating a near-totalitarian 47%. This sorry state of affairs suggests Canadians, lacking security in their property, will be poorly motivated to pursue the bountiful opportunities our future promises. But not all is lost. Early investors determined to improve the economic environment in lower-rated areas stand to profit significantly if  they are successful in rolling back government regulation and entrenching property rights in their local constitutions. Look to motivated groups (such as participants in the Free Province Project) to dedicate a good portion of their efforts toward enhancing property rights in their regions.

 

Amalgamation Boosters Blind To Benefits

Dave Killion — March 20, 2013

Those folks who promote amalgamating the thirteen municipalities that comprise Greater Victoria have still not forsworn their foolish ways, despite my efforts to show them their errors. Like most, they base their opinions only on what they see (the costs of decentralized governance), while neglecting to consider those effects that they do not see

“…  about two years after the West Shore community of 16,000 launched Solar Colwood — a $12-million plan to equip 1,000 homes with solar-powered heat and hot water — the program seems to be languishing due to a lack of interest.

The hope was to install 1,000 solar units — hot water heaters and ductless split heat-pumps — over three years. But by the end of 2012, only 34 solar hot water heaters and 75 ductless heat pumps had been installed.” “… total out-of-pocket municipal expenses to date, including in-kind costs, are about $42,000.”

What is it that the pro-amalgamaters do not see? They do not see how much money would have been spent on this unwanted and expensive program, had it been implemented region-wide. As it now stands, the City of Colwood gets to serve as a bad example for the other twelve municipalities, and fewer tax dollars will be expended on something in which taxpayers have no interest. The pro-amalgamaters literally don’t know how lucky they are. Hopefully, they will continue to be unsuccessful in their attempts to cause the rest of us to suffer for their ignorance.

Optimism Over The Free Province Project

Dave Killion — March 11, 2013

In a previous post concerning the Free Province Project, I bemoan the comparatively unfavourable political and economic climate. Yet, I have noticed that in every discussion amongst libertarians regarding Colorado, someone points out how much better Colorado was before being ‘invaded’ by progressives fleeing states that had been ruined by the very policies they endorse, and how those same progressives are doing to Colorado what they did to their former homes. The same phenomenon occurs in discussions concerning the Free State Project; Bay Staters are migrating from Massachusetts into New Hampshire faster than are Free Staters. It is feared the progressive wave may swamp the libertarian lifeboat.

Could it be that I am too hasty in declaring the bleak state of affairs in PEI to be a detriment to libertarian ambitions? Perhaps, by selecting a region with such gloomy prospects, libertarians won’t have to battle an onslaught of idiot authoritarians, and can more readily construct a peaceful, market-oriented homeland. Yes, indeed… I do believe that I have mistaken an asset for a liability.

Incidentally, the Free Province Project remains little other than a Facebook page. If you (or someone you know) would like to step up and start administrating, it could one day prove a great blow for liberty. Think about it.

Job Well Done! Now, Get Out.

Dave Killion — January 15, 2013

The six-year term of B.C. Auditor General John Doyle is coming to a close. By all accounts his work has been exemplary, yet  a provincial  legislative committee has voted against re-appointing him. This decision is decried by many members of the public and the media, and of course, the opposition. But as Jordan Bateman of the Canadian Taxpayer’s Federation points out, re-appointing Auditors General is a sure way to make them less effective

“No doubt, Doyle is a superb auditor general”….”But that doesn’t mean he should get another six years. In fact, no independent officer of the legislature should ever be reappointed.

Legislative officers must be, first and foremost, independent. Any re-appointment process undermines that independence.

When re-appointment is an option, nearing the end of their first six-year term some independent officers begin to wonder whether the government will reappoint them. They may ease up on the government to help their cause – human nature dictates the difficulty of biting the hand that feeds us. This undermines the office and puts taxpayers at risk. The last thing we want is an officer trying to get a government to renew his or her contract.”

Quite right. And now with the Liberals likely to lose control of the government to the NDP in the spring elections, it’s their job to appoint someone who is going to do to the NDP what Doyle did to them. Declining to re-appoint Doyle will make that a lot easier.

 

Building Better Beggars

Dave Killion — January 7, 2013

Further to yesterday’s post, I recalled that there is an argument in favour of municipal amalgamation that I have yet to address, and which would likely apply to any proposed Maritime Union. It is this: an amalgamated Victoria (and a Unified Maritimes) may have more influence on higher levels of government.

This position is not without merit. When the City of Victoria petitions the Federal or Provincial governments over funding for things such as infrastructure maintenance, the petition can be denied at the risk of alienating only the voters in one small municipality, rather than the whole region. But does that benefit outweigh the substantial losses that will occur after local (or provincial) governments are shielded from competing with each other? I don’t know. I can, however, say this with confidence; when your best argument for the change you propose is that it will make you a better supplicant, you will not get any libertarians behind you.

De-Regulate The Maritimes

Dave Killion — January 6, 2013

Over at Avalon (blog of the Atlantica Party) they appear to be endorsing the idea of Maritime Union –

” ‘Jurisdictional integrity’ really means the power of the status quo elites. Despite union having a long list of real benefits (for example, it is estimated that health care would cost 40% less) and being fully supported by the federal government we watch the powers-that-be quickly dismiss the whole idea. No debate, discussion, or study. Just a passing comment that it is all a ‘fantasy’ and, so please, let’s forget all about it. But Maritime Union existed in the past and could again (if the benefits are proven) if we had proper leadership, leadership that has a vision of what this region could be. Instead, as we get closer to the ‘tipping-point’ of depopulation and failed-state status, our leaders concern themselves with maintaining ‘jurisdictional integrity’. We maintain that union of some form should be seriously considered and yet the people and business have to stand by as our leaders dismiss it out of hand.”

Galt protect us all from ‘proper leadership’ with ‘a vision’! It appears the pro-Maritime Union crowd is very much like Victoria’s pro-municipal amalgamation crowd, in that they believe the problems that have arisen thanks to top-down, centrally planned governance can only be resolved by an even more powerful form of top-down, centrally planned governance (I have dismissed these arguments here, here, here, and here). In my view, unifying the Maritimes is much like imposing right-to-work legislation, or providing state-licensing of gay marriage – possibly an improvement in the status quo, but certainly not something libertarians should be expending resources on promoting.

Citizens Use Government To Steal From Business

Dave Killion — September 15, 2012

Would you like some injustice with that?

 

Go to Long Island, New York, and you might just see The Most Beautiful McDonald’s In America –

“Known as the Denton House, its bones date back to 1795, when it was constructed as a farm house by one Joseph Denton, a descendent of the founder of the village of Hempstead. In 1860, it was given a Georgian makeover, complete with gingerbread ornamentation, and throughout the 1900′s, found commercial use as a funeral home and a series of restaurants.

By 1986, it was abandoned and on the verge of falling down.

McDonalds purchased the property with the intention of tearing it down and replacing it with a standard McDonald’s restaurant. Thank God for the citizens of the New Hyde Park, who worked to secure landmark status for the building in 1987.”

Thank God? Let me understand this: a group of citizens desires the preservation of a building, and achieves that goal by lobbying local government to place restrictions on the property that cause the existing owner to suffer an increase in costs AND a loss in property value. We’re to believe that God not only approved of such an outcome, but deserves praise for being somehow behind it? Well, as I recall, there is at least one commandment of the ten that expressed God’s position on theft, and I’m pretty sure he is opposed to it. I’m not saying these people are going to Hell… only that they deserve to.

Did the members of the community really want the building saved? It’s hard to say. If people were told they would have to pay for the cost of saving the building out of their own pockets, I bet many fewer would have said yes. But they weren’t asked that question. They were asked if they wanted the building saved, and they all knew without being told that someone else would have to pay. And, libertarians aside, who would have said no to that?

Via Neatorama

Code Enforcement And Warrantless Entry

Dave Killion — August 26, 2012

The Township of Esquimalt is one of the many local governments that comprise Greater Victoria. Here are a couple interesting items in their Building Bylaw:

7.2 A Building Official:

7.2.1  may enter any land, building, structure, or premises at any reasonable times, for the purpose of ascertaining that the terms of this bylaw are being observed

7.2.2 where any residence or secondary suite is occupied, shall obtain the consent of the occupant or provide written notice to the occupant 24 hours in advance of entry

 

25. PENALTIES AND ENFORCEMENT

25.1 Every person who contravenes any provision of this bylaw commits an offence punishable on summary conviction and shall be liable to a fine of not more than $10,000.00 (Ten Thousand Dollars) or to imprisonment for not more than six months.

 

Every municipality in Greater Victoria, and likely all of British Columbia, has a building bylaw with similar clauses. As you see, the power of a building official to enter your property without your consent is much greater than that of a police officer, and the penalties for resisting or denying entry can be severe. And as can be seen from this post on the Volunteer Blog, this situation exists in provinces all across Canada.

I have worked with building inspectors and bylaw enforcement officers throughout Greater Victoria, and I have never heard of these rules being implemented to their full extent. I have, however, seen several instances where the threat of doing so has been used to attain compliance. Does this mean there really is no reason to worry about the existence of such regulations? No, it doesn’t. Regulations are weapons for the coercive state, and just like weapons, may sit harmlessly for ages. But when the state decides to pull the trigger, the effects will be devastating. Striking these rules is the equivalent of disarming violent criminals, and would best be done sooner, rather than later.