Archive for Local Politics

Choice Is Good, Even When It Comes To Zoning

Dave Killion — July 11, 2012

Victoria Vision has posted another reason why the municipalities of Greater Victoria should amalgamate; too many zoning classifications

“Not counting Victoria, (there are) 522 zoning classifications and 198 comprehensive development zones.   This is simply utterly over the top and ludicrous.   Why bother with zoning bylaws at all if we have so many of them?   It is not only the number of zones that is a problem.”

“Our region is very badly zoned and will always be so until we have a unified planning and zoning process.  Only amalgamation can fix this.”

If the pro-amalgamation crowd is going to advance this position, they are going to have to demonstrate that all the municipalities are badly zoned, and they are going to have to prove that areas that have more centralized governance are never badly zoned. Otherwise, assertions that amalgamation will bring about superior zoning are groundless. Plus, when bad zoning happens, it is much better to have the damage contained within one smaller municipality than spread over an entire region. That fact alone suggests that we would benefit from far more zoning choices, rather than fewer.

There doesn’t seem to be much of an appetite for discussing amalgamation right now, but should it arise, in view of the arguments proponents are offering, they are going to have a very difficult time.

Proposing the Wrong Solution

Dave Killion — June 17, 2012

I have, once or twice, explained how those who promote various forms of amalgamation for the thirteen municipalities which govern Victoria both misdiagnose the illness AND prescribe the wrong cure. Judging by a recent post at Victoria Vision, they still haven’t see the light

“Our OCPs(Official Community Plans) in the region are not as good as they could be because they plan for the arbitrary borders that exist and not for the communities that really do exist.     We have neighbourhoods split up by the planning process and not being allowed to holistically work as a single community.

The OCP process is also very exclusionary.  Just because someone lives on one side of the street their opinion on the other side of the street does not get counted as an equal voice.   It is also  exclusionary  because there are so many planning processes.   There is no way anyone can keep on top of any of them.  It also means the media does not pay attention to them either.  We end up with much less input and from a narrow segment of the city’s population.

We need amalgamation simply so that we can plan properly for the whole city.”

But the problem isn’t that there are 13 OCPs when there should be just two or three, it’s that there are 13 OCPs when there should be none! Centralizing plans cannot work because central planners cannot acquire and evaluate all the knowledge they require in order to undertake such a task successfully. To think otherwise is to fall victim to what Friedrich Hayek called ‘The Fatal Conceit‘. The solution to what ails Greater Victoria (and most every other city) is to strip all coercive governance down to its core functions as quickly as possible, and privatize those core functions to the greatest degree possible. Any things else is just an exchange of one set of problems for another.

Isn’t Vote Buying Illegal?

Dave Killion — May 9, 2012

The provincial government has introduced legislation to create a new holiday in British Columbia called Family Day, starting in February 2013. Business concerns have been dismissed on the grounds that the stretch between New Year’s Day and Easter is so long, families ‘deserve’ a break. Plus, the holiday practically pays for itself! –

“(Premier Christie Clark) acknowledged that some businesses may have concerns about another paid day off for workers, but suggested the holiday could pay off economically and socially.

“Think about ski hills and tourist destinations,” Clark said. “Think about restaurants and hotels on Family Day. People will use it to take their family out and do things. That’s the purpose of it.”

Well, I guess I just never thought about it like that. It appears that people have simply not had enough time to spend their money! Perhaps the government is really on to something here. Perhaps what we really need is even more paid holidays.

Seriously, how can anyone swallow this? More state-mandated holidays means lower wages, fewer and smaller pay raises, and slower job creation in BC. Taxpayers will be better served if this holiday has a name more in keeping with its outcome, rather than its intent… perhaps Anti-Investment Day, or Victory Over Entrepreneurship Day. Considering the current state of the global economy, citizens should recognize this proposal for what it is – a goodie for the benefit of public sector unions at the expense of provincial families.

Turtle Stacks

Dave Killion — May 6, 2012

 

 

Perhaps it's time for teacher turtle to come up for some air.

Neatorama reminds us of a recent incident in the ongoing battle between British Columbia teachers and the provincial government –

B.C. teachers are upset with Bill 22, which came into effect last month, ending their strike and bringing in a mediator. In Prince Rupert, teachers have been displaying their disappointment on T-shirts, signs and bumper stickers.

Now, a Grade 1 teacher at a Prince Rupert elementary school has been told by the school district she could be disciplined for having the quote “I know, up on the top you are seeing great sights, but down here at the bottom we, too, should have rights” on her clothing or in her vehicle while on school property.”

Apparently, this particular quote (courtesy of Yertle the Turtle) is considered a political message and is therefore not permitted on school property. That isn’t what interests me about this story, though. What gets my attention is that you have one group of people (taxpayers) who are forced to pay a second group of people (teachers) whether they think the teachers deserve it or not… and it’s the teachers who think they are the bottom turtles.

I Don’t Like the Looks of This

Dave Killion — March 7, 2012

 

Well, when you put it like that...

British Columbia teachers are on the third day of a three-day strike, the apex of which was a march to the provincial Parliament Building, where teachers protested the bill aimed at forcing an end to their labour dispute  –

“Union leaders looked over an estimated crowd of 5,000 striking teachers and union supporters on the lawns of the legislature at noon Tuesday and hailed it as a shining example of solidarity.

“This is what democracy looks like,” said Susan Lambert, president of the B.C. Teachers Federation.”

She’s right. A powerful special interest group, highly motivated by the possibility of concentrated benefits, lobbies the state with vigour. Meanwhile, the great majority of the public, over whom the costs are spread, find little incentive to fight back.  That is, precisely, what democracy looks like.

 

Opting Out of BC’s Medical Services Plan (MSP)

David — March 1, 2012

I am in the process of opting out of BC’s Medical Services Plan (MSP). Here are a few things I have found out so far:

  1. When you opt out you have to do it for a minimum of one year. How odd. I suspect they do this as a scare tactic to stop people from exiting the system. Insurance companies are always happy to protect people for payment regardless of how recently you stopped using their services. Companies are clearly more compassionate than our provincial government.
  2. Based on the first point you would think our government didn’t want BC residents to have MSP once they opted out. Here is where it gets strange: they automatically opt you back in after a year. In other words you have to fill out a form and send it in to them every year if you want to stay opted out. The first point is odd but this is outrageous and criminal. If a private company were to automatically opt customers back into services they had opted out of and immediately started charging for it they would be promptly taken to court. If the first law suit didn’t bankrupt them, surely the class action suit that followed would. Can you imagine if Netflix automatically opted all customers back in to its service after one year after said parties de-activated their accounts? Criminal.
  3. This is the part where I was going to recommend some great private options to any of you who are interested in opting out. The troubling thing is that I found little to no private health insurance options in BC. Pacific Blue Cross only provides insurance for those already covered by MSP. In fact Blue Cross seems to think BC residents are required to get MSP – this is what it said on their website: “All BC residents are required to enroll with the Medical Services Plan.” This is an error – you can opt out of MSP. You just have to waist precious time doing it every year because our provincial government is a criminal gang writ large. My assumption is that private options are few – maybe even non-existent – for the same reason that there are no private ferries going to the mainland: the government has subsidised through tax funding and leveraged its monopoly position to extinguish competitors. Maybe we can get the Canadian Federal Government to break up the Provincial Government’s abusive monopoly? If only the government applied the laws it applies to individuals and companies to itself.

 

Hollow Words

Dave Killion — February 25, 2012

While searching police headquarters and all police vehicles for equipment which has gone missing, detectives found the Victoria Police chief’s loaded and holstered service pistol under the driver’s seat of his unmarked police vehicle

“Victoria Police Department policy dictates firearms stored at headquarters “must be unloaded, placed inside a locking drawer within a locked locker, and not be left unattended,” according to the statement.

Police say Graham came forward to Mayor Dean Fortin, head of the police board, and “took full responsibility” for the error, which is characterized as “neglect of duty” under the Police Act.

“Just as I expect every member of this department to take full responsibility for their actions, I take responsibility for this incident and I accept the discipline authority’s findings,” Graham said in a statement.”

For commoners, to be responsible for such an incident is to face the loss of one’s firearms license, the loss of one’s firearms, and likely the loss of some of one’s property and freedom. For a police chief, to be responsible for such an incident is to face a written reprimand. The chief may think himself noble for owning up to his transgression, and there may be some who admire his forthrightness, but in my opinion any virtue he salvages out of this incident is cheap.

Good ideas don’t have to be forced on people

Dave Killion — November 1, 2011

Over at Amalgamate Greater Victoria, James Legh continues to make the case for concentrating control over our several municipalities. His most recent post [Oct 9] concerns arts funding –

“Only eight of our 13 municipalities contribute to the CRD arts funding. Sooke, Langford, Colwood, Central Saanich and North Saanich do not. Apparently this is because they think their citizens do not use the arts which are focused mainly on the downtown.

What a crock. I have seen people who live in Sooke at many arts events. Remember, many even work in Victoria. Do they seriously think that their residents do not go to concerts or plays? Do none of them enjoy the Symphony?”

Local governments that spend money on arts funding have to choose between higher property taxes, or providing less funding for things like schools, roads, and policing. Those local governments that make the right choices are rewarded, and the others suffer the consequences. Legh is obviously unaware that what he thinks is a liability is actually a benefit. More local governments equals more freedom.

City Blocks Affordable Housing Plan

JMaddock — October 22, 2011

I was quite disgusted today to read that the City of Victoria is continuing to block a private developer’s efforts to offer affordable housing units in an unused downtown hotel. [See ‘It’s not going to cost the city a penny,’ Times Colonist, Oct. 22, 2011]

It seems that the City (which is really just another corporation, albeit one that happens to get most of its funding through the use of force) has a clear incentive not to allow new affordable housing units in the downtown core:

“Down the road sits another former Traveller’s Inn being used to house 36 low-income people, its stucco crumbling and its rotted railings propped up with newly painted 2X4s. This building, at 710 Queens Rd., is now known as Queens Manor and was one of two Traveller’s Inns bought by the city for $5.6 million.”

Wherever you come from ideologically, it’s difficult to deny that Victoria is in desperate need of more affordable housing. It’s one of the main talking points in every local election. But it seems that once they are elected, local politicians only support affordable housing that’s publicly funded and managed.

When a private entrepreneur comes along with a viable business model to turn an empty hotel into cheap housing for struggling Victorians, City Hall opposes it. Could it be that politicians only believe in helping people when they have a monopoly on doing it?

I was also a little shocked by at least one councilor’s rational for opposing the private affordable housing plan:

“Coun. Lynn Hunter is worried that the nature of the development could make it a magnet for single men, which could lead to added social costs such as police calls the city will have to pick up in the future.”

Can you imagine if this left-leaning councilor had said the same thing about blacks, natives, or basically any minority group other than “single men?”

Blanket beach bans

Dave Killion — September 19, 2011

Some of the proposals for keeping non-residents from using the beach seem a little extreme.

As far as some municipal taxpayers are concerned, a local beach is proving just a little too popular

“A group of Lions Bay residents wants its village council to look into excluding outsiders from Lions Bay Beach Park, a popular local beach.

The village council will meet Monday to discuss the formation of a “Concerned Residents Task Force” after a group of 20 or so residents voiced their displeasure to council.”

The illegal parking, overflowing garbage containers, strained septic field, and insufficient policing of bad behaviour that has riled up the complainants are all perfectly predictable consequences of management by government agencies that simply do not have the knowledge or incentives to manage common resources optimally. As the article points out, restricting the beach to local residents is a legal impossibility. The best solution? Privatize the beach and let those who use it pay directly for its upkeep. Whatever the result, it has to be better than pitting neighbour against neighbour.