FRONT PAGE BREAKING NEWS
News in support of successful living: business & economy, health & wellness, education, youth, the arts, politics, sustainability & social trends. Featuring news of the west side of Vancouver Island.
Monday, October 16 ~ SOOKE. Log giveaway in Sooke. About 60 to 80 cords of alderwood have recently been logged from Lot A on Wadams Way in Sooke. The logs lie exhausted in a big pile by the fence along Sooke Road at Kaltasin Road in the District of Sooke’s workyard.
It’s quite a sight for those who live in other areas of Greater Victoria where felling even one tree in protected areas generates quite an uproar.
It’s just one more indication that while Sooke tries to include itself in the urban swath for services like getting a hospital or clinic, the region is still firmly connected to its rural roots.
The land clearing at Lot A is to make way for construction of the new, long-promised Sooke library (opening now pushed well into 2019, it was stated in a Vancouver Island Regional Library release in recent weeks).
Sooke Council took several awkward minutes off-line (microphones deliberately turned off) at their October 10 meeting to review “new information” as Mayor Maja Tait put it, after senior staff declined the mayor’s request to verbally brief council on the logging report. That’s a council-staff dynamic you don’t see in many municipal councils — mayor and council unprepared and senior administrative staff refusing to support a smooth presentation, and/or an attempt to reveal disclosure of some discussion.
The audience chatted and fidgeted during what was clearly a break in the meeting as Mayor and council read the report and had some discussions. Online viewers got a good chunk of silence to watch. With the webcast back on, Sooke Fire Chief Kenn Mount was then asked to provide some technical information.
Political options for what to do with the logs included offering them to non-profits for resale as fundraising opportunities, or selling the logs as firewood and keeping the proceeds of direct sale for the district’s own budget. As an active micro-management exercise, the Mayor lured real-time advertising-booking commitments out of council.
Councillor Kerrie Reay said the district is “always looking for money” and therefore supported direct sale of the logs and keeping the proceeds for the municipal budget, as did Councillor Brenda Parkinson who said the funds could be directed to the Community Grants budget.
Councillors Rick Kasper and Kevin Pearson spoke in favour of donating the logs to non-profits, if such groups would have the skill and means to produce firewood from the large logs (and are covered by suitable liability insurance). That last option is what council approved. Certain groups in town will be more easily connected with logging skills than others, so it is a political tip of the hat to the loggers and firewood buffs in the community.
Friday, October 13 ~ BC. “ShakeOutBC is a great opportunity to break from our routines, practice our earthquake response and take a moment to reflect on our level of preparedness,” says Jennifer Rice, Parliamentary Secretary for Emergency Preparedness.
“We each have a duty to prepare our family and our community for emergencies.” We encourages people to participate in the Drop, Cover and Hold On drill on Oct 19.
BC sits in one of the world’s most seismically active regions, with more than 3,000 earthquakes recorded every year. Most are too small to be felt, but the risk of one being big enough to cause damage is real.
The best immediate response in an earthquake is to Drop, Cover and Hold On. Thousands of people practice this life-saving technique every year as part of the Great BC ShakeOut which is Canada’s largest earthquake drill.
Families, schools, businesses or organizations can register for ShakeOutBC at www.shakeoutbc.ca/register
Wednesday, October 11 ~ WEST SHORE. The upgraded View Royal Casino — to be known as Elements Casino — is getting some on-the-ground promotion in the west shore area. Two recent events hosted by the West Shore Chamber of Commerce … a business showcase with 31 exhibitors at Eagle Ridge Arena on October 1 and tonight October 11 a business mixer at Darcy’s Pub, offered different angles on the promotion.
At the business showcase over 100 job applications were filled out by eager potential employees for the expanded facility. And at the mixer, BC Lottery Corporation (BCLC) director of public affairs Greg Walker spoke to those gathered about the new facility and how gaming grants support non-profits throughout the province. BCLC co-hosted the October 11 mixer.
Walker said that the community gaming grants “are one way we give back”. Municipalities rely on BCLC gaming grants to help with general operational budget support.
The View Royal casino will be more than doubled in size with a major upgrade (adding 42,000 sq ft), becoming Elements Casino aiming to open by in spring 2018.
There will also be 12 new table games with live dealers, to add to the current 15, and new dining venues such as a buffet, casual lounge and bar.
Some of the jobs for which people applied this month include servers and bartenders, chefs, cage cashier and count team attendants, card dealers, security officers, surveillance operators, and operational roles in finance, human resources and marketing.
Last year View Royal Mayor David Screech called the View Royal expansion project good news. “I’m thrilled with the announcement and the confirmation that View Royal clearly will remain the premier gaming facility in the region,” he had said. The gambling operation generated $71.8 million in revenue in the 2015-16 fiscal year, with $4.1 million going to West Shore municipalities. View Royal and Langford get about 45% each, with the remaining 10% shared among five other jurisdictions, said Screech.
The Government of BC founded BCLC over 30 years ago with the stated purpose of giving back to the citizens of BC and helping communities grow. Since 1985, their customers have helped invest $19 billion in health care, education and community programs. BCLC says that 88 cents of every dollar goes back into provincial tax revenues.
Tuesday, October 10 ~ BC. BC Premier John Horgan is visiting Alert Bay today following an invitation from Chief Bob Chamberlin of the Kwikwasutinuxw Haxwa’mis First Nation. Premier Horgan will hear from local First Nations leaders, elders and community members on a range of topics and particularly on the challenging issue of Atlantic salmon aquaculture. The meeting will run from 10:15 am to 2:30 pm at the ‘Namgis Traditional Big House.
Two Atlantic salmon fish farms in the region are currently being occupied by protestors. The industry generated $787 million in annual value in 2016 and supports about 5,000 rural and coastal jobs. B.C.’s new government is committed to implementing the recommendations of the Cohen Commission and working with Indigenous communities, the federal government and industry on the issue of Atlantic salmon aquaculture.
With Premier Horgan today in Alert Bay will be Scott Fraser, Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation as well as Agriculture Minister Lana Popham and Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure and MLA for North Island Claire Trevena.
First Nations participants include: ‘Namgis First Nation, Dzawadaenuxw First Nation, Kwikwasutinuxw Haxwa’mis First Nation, Mamalalikula First Nation, and Kuterra land-raised salmon farm.
There were similar problems with Atlantic salmon acquaculture on the west side of Vancouver Island this past summer where an enclosure lost containment, allowing for the possible cross-contamination with natural Pacific salmon as well as competition for natural food sources.
Tuesday, October 10 ~ OTTAWA. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Sophie Gregoire Trudeau are off to Washington today for two days, for business talks, social events and photo ops.
This visit takes place amidst a time of NAFTA negotiations, stresses with North Korea, and the political strain of the Black Lives Matter kneeling issue at professional sports events. Trudeau’s official public engagements focussing on women in business is a soft-edge diplomatic touch.
On Tuesday evening, The Trudeaus will attend the Fortune Most Powerful Women Summit and Gala. On Wednesday morning,along with Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland, the Trudeaus will participate in the Women One Roundtable Discussion. After that, the Prime Minister and Freeland will meet with the Committee on Ways and Means.
On Wednesday afternoon October 11, the Trudeaus will arrive at the White House and be greeted by US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump. Trudeau and Trump will meet privately around 2:05 pm, after which Trudeau is scheduled to meet with media around 3:40 pm.
There’s been a stone-cold drop in activity and a significant cooling in prices in many average-price areas of the Greater Victoria real estate market in recent weeks.
But in three areas actual sales price averages jumped dramatically between August and September: Langford was up by $55,150, East Saanich was up by $42,565 and North Saanich prices skyrocketed by $152,407. Prices in high-end Oak Bay notably dropped by almost $94,000 (only post-peak stock may have been available).
In September there were 18.1% fewer properties sold than a year ago. East Saanich is normally the bell-weather of pricing trends, and Langford seems to be following suit.
The Victoria Real Estate Board says the market is “trending slowly towards more balanced conditions and overall price increases are levelling”. But their own stats tell a different story. The trend is not slow. prices are ‘acting out’, and the most stable areas (East Saanich and Langford) show distinct upward pressure.
Two Bank of Canada interest rate hikes this summer cut the legs out from under the lower end of the market, hurting entry-level buyers and sellers of modest homes.
Housing inventory rose in September 2017 (up 3.1% from August) as properties have become more difficult to sell. In the fast-growing City of Langford the actual sale price of single family homes surpassed $700,000 last month while Colwood and Sooke prices plummeted.
This article was first published in the October 6, 2017 issue of West Shore Voice News.
Friday, October 6 ~ BC. BC Liberal MLA Todd Stone (MLA for Kamloops-South Thompson) will be making “a special announcement regarding the future of the party and the province” on Tuesday, October 10 in Surrey. He will also do campaign-style stops in Victoria and at Thompson Rivers University in his home town of Kamloops. He is expected to announce his candidacy to run for the BC Liberal leadership.
Stone was the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure under the Christy Clark Liberal government from June 2013, during which time his Ministry launched a 10-year plan to expand and enhance highways and roads throughout BC. He also served as Minister Responsible for Emergency Management BC and Deputy Government House Leader. He was also a member of the Priorities and Planning Committee.
Former Liberal cabinet minister Peter Fassbender says BC needs a fresh vision to keep the province on track. The first of six BC Liberal candidate debates is set for October 15 in Surrey, with party members embarking upon their process to select a new leader to replace former premier Christy Clark by early February 2018.
Friday, October 6 ~ COASTAL BC. This morning was the first of several 6am sailings by BC Ferries vessels between Metro Vancouver and Victoria. The additional sailing time (sailings normally start at 8 am) is part of accommodating heavier ferry traffic on the busy Thanksgiving Long Weekend.
“It was a good load from Swartz Bay to Tsawwassen this morning on the Coastal Renaissance,” said BC Ferries communications rep Deborah Marshall. There were 250 vehicles on board the Super C-Class vessel, which is about 80% of the ship’s 310-vehicle capacity.
There was also good use of the 6 am sailing from the Vancouver side over to the island. The Tsawwassen to Swartz Bay sailing on the Queen of New Westminster carried 150 vehicles which is 60% of the 250-vehicle full capacity.
There will be another set of 6 am sailings on Saturday October 7 and on Thanksgiving Monday October 9 plus Tuesday October 10.
There will also be some midnight departures on October 6 and 9 from both terminals on the Metro Vancouver-Victoria route (Tsawwassen-Swartz Bay) as part of the additional 90 sailings on BC Ferries for this long weekend.
The most popular travel times are expected to have been yesterday afternoon (October 5) and this afternoon Friday October 6, as well as tomorrow (Saturday) morning.
BC Ferries says the busiest day of the long weekend is likely to be Monday, October 9, with traffic returning to the mainland from the Departure Bay, Swartz Bay and Langdale terminals. Duke Point terminal tends to be less congested than Departure Bay, so customers returning to Vancouver from the Nanaimo area may consider travelling through the Duke Point terminal.
Parking lots at the major terminals may reach capacity at the height of the weekend, so public transit is suggested as an option for foot passengers.
Route info and sailing conditions: www.bcferries.com
Thursday, October 5 ~ VICTORIA & WEST SHORE AREA. One lane of travel in each direction returns to the Malahat.
Now that the summer peak travel period is over and traffic volumes are lower, the BC Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (MOTI) says it will be reducing the Malahat section of Highway 1 (Trans Canada) to one lane in each direction. That’s in the Malahat Village area between Aspen Road and Shawnigan Lake Road.
That traffic pattern change will take effect after the Thanksgiving long weekend and remain in place 24/7 until the May long weekend in 2018. MOTI says this will help ensure that blasting activities can be completed safely and to provide clear and consistent lanes for drivers through the project during the winter months when visibility is often reduced by weather conditions. Intermittent traffic stoppages are also required for blasting but will occur outside peak periods (6 a.m. to 9 a.m. southbound and 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. northbound).
Drivers can still expect delays of up to 20 minutes during construction. The ministry asks motorists to please be attentive for workers and obey the construction speed zone of 60 kph at all times. Drivers are asked to use both lanes up to the merge point and then alternate when merging (like a zipper) for best efficiency. For current conditions and up-to-date traffic advisories: www.drivebc.ca
Improvements to the Malahat have been taking place in phases for the past couple of years. Adding meridians to separate northbound and southbound traffic has been a significant part of the work. In July 2016, $34 million was committed for the Malahat Safety Improvements project ($20,000 from BC and $14,000 in federal funds). An $18.5-million construction contract was awarded to Emil Anderson Construction Ltd for construction that began in spring 2017 and now runs through summer 2018.
Thursday, October 5 ~ COASTAL BC. Wow, travel takes time, especially on the busy Thanksgiving weekend!
And for some ferry customers there is the incentive to make it an early start on Friday and Saturday (October 6, 7) and Thanksgiving Monday plus Tuesday (October 9 and 10) when BC Ferries will be running 6am sailings. There will also be some midnight departures on October 6 and 9 from both terminals on the Metro Vancouver-Victoria route (Tsawwassen-Swartz Bay).
There will be 90 extra sailings overall on BC Ferries shops for the Thanksgiving long weekend.
The most popular travel times are expected to be this afternoon, October 5, and Friday afternoon October 6, as well as Saturday morning.
From experience, BC Ferries notes that the busiest day of the Long Weekend is likely to be Monday, October 9, with traffic returning to the mainland from the Departure Bay, Swartz Bay and Langdale terminals. Duke Point terminal tends to be less congested than Departure Bay, so customers returning to Vancouver from the Nanaimo area may consider travelling through the Duke Point terminal.
Parking lots at the major terminals may reach capacity at the height of the weekend, so public transit is suggested as an option for foot passengers.
Route info and sailing conditions: www.bcferries.com
Thursday, October 5 ~ BC. Addressing the issue of housing affordability and availability, this week BC Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver questioned housing Minister Selina Robinson on the BC NDP government’s intentions to take action to cool the housing market.
“Last week at UBCM the Premier indicated that his government’s solution to the problem of housing affordability is to simply add more supply,” Weaver said. Supply is required, but it goes deeper than that.
“Once more our government has missed the glaring problems on the demand side,” said Weaver. Weaver pointed out that when in opposition, Minister Eby (now Attorney General) was a fierce critic of the government’s failure to act, and argued that the bare trust loophole costs British Columbia hundreds of millions of dollars that could be used for affordable housing initiatives.”
Weaver is calling for the Horgan NDP government to “take action immediately to close the bare trust loophole that incentivizes speculation, discourages transparency and encourages property tax avoidance”.
Weaver is calling for bold solutions to the affordable housing crisis that is facing many communities. He is targeted the non-resident foreign buyer’s tax as something that should be extended to the entire province. The BC Greens are also calling for a ban on foreign ownership of ALR land over five acres, as a way to stem speculation and protect British Columbia’s food security.Weaver states the obvious: “The purpose of housing should be to provide homes for British Columbians – not a commodity that is wide open to international speculation.” He called it a “terrible reality” for people to be priced out of their own community due to real estate speculation.
Last week at UBCM, presenters armed with data in a presentation about the housing market argued that housing prices in Victoria and Vancouver will remain consistently high due to the desirability of people wanting to live in these urban areas of the BC coastal region.
In a presentation on September 25, Josh Gordon, Assistant Professor in Public Policy at SFU said there is “too much investment in the housing market” which is increasing transaction costs. “Private housing was never meant to be an investment vehicle,” said Gordon. As he was addressing municipal officials, he added: “No action by local authorities can have any impact on pricing.” He continued that housing prices have reached “unprecedented levels” in Vancouver and Victoria, but showed with housing trends data that squeezing regular homeowners out of the market is “not a Canada-wide issue”. Professor Gordon called it a “two-track market”. He left those in room a bit overwhelmed but arguably convinced.Last week at UBCM when Premier John Horgan in his speech to wrap up the conference on Friday morning tossed out a glib offer of manufactured homes (calling them ‘cans’) for municipalities to use for providing housing, it did offer supply. But it smacked of a ‘step down’ for people who have been pushed out of access to regular housing due to the bigger market forces that Weaver and the data-laden experts are talking about.
Municipalities like the City of Langford are keen to boost housing supply, having added about 500 to 600 homes (single family, townhome, condo, apartment rental and subsidized housing) per year in the past few years. Further, Langford Mayor Stew Young sees continued supply as a way to provide jobs and build the local and regional west shore economy, where businesses increasing flock to be part of the burgeoning economy there.
Wednesday, October 4 ~ LANGFORD. The full West Shore Parkway officially opened today. Feature by Mary P Brooke.
>> A significant achievement for the City of Langford, a milestone for Langford Mayor Stew Young, and a boon for the economy of the entire west shore region… today the opening of the full West Shore Parkway celebrated all that.
Under bright skies on this crisp fall day, about 300 people gathered along the brand new roadway and up close for the formal announcement. That was at 10 am. And around 11 am the full West Shore Parkway from the Trans Canada Highway (Hwy 1) over to Sooke Road (Hwy 14) saw its first through-traffic.
But not before a motorcade of classic cars took a symbolic first-drive on the newly-opened 3.5 km road. Leading the pack was Mayor Young, cruising in his pale blue 1956 Buick Special, nicely appointed and car-show ready. That was the end of the long-awaited, much-anticipated October 4 official opening event. Ahead of that there were speeches, acknowledgements and the ribbon-cutting.
Foremost was the reminder to all that the key success of this new roadway was an infrastructure partnership by three levels of government. The Government of Canada (by the work of then-MLA for Courtenay—Alberni, John Duncan), the Government of BC (under then-Minister of Transportation & Infrastructure Todd Stone), and the City of Langford (by way of developers in Langford) each contributed $7.5 million to the $22.5 million project.First announced as a go-ahead infrastructure project in July 2015, Stew Young was proud to proclaim today that the major engineering feat was achieved on budget and on time. He acknowledged the massive undertaking this project was for the late Victor Chen, former engineering manager with the City of Victoria, who passed away suddenly in August. Victor’s widow Joyce was part of the ribbon-cutting ceremony today, leading the 3-2-1 countdown of the ribbon cutting in Chinese.
“Thank you to the business community for stepping up and funding the Langford portion,” said Mayor Stew Young as part of his remarks at the microphone. “Opening this road creates a great economic opportunity for Langford. It gets people in car from workplace to home earlier, spending more time in your community with your families. And that’s what infrastructure is all about,” he said, as well as reducing greenhouse gas emissions with cars not idling as much in traffic congestion.
Mayor Young says the “next big project” is to “start to push to get that highway fixed into town” Young is promoting the need for high-occupancy lanes on Highway 1, to improve commuter travel times. “Let’s get some pressure and some support, and fix that highway for people living in the west shore.”“This is a complete community job,” said Stew Young about the completion of the West Shore Parkway. “We’re so excited about having this open and the cooperation with everybody—that’s how you get things done — working with business, working with government. And that’s how we’re going to continue doing things in Langford.”
“Enjoy the road. It’s a fantastic road. You’re going to like all the improvements,” said Young in wrapping up. “It’s one of the best connectors you’re going to drive in BC right now, with all the aesthetically beautiful things we’ve done with our roadways including artificial turf that we don’t have to water, saving the environment.” And with his trademark showmanship: “ Let’s get this thing open!”
City of Langford Director of Engineering Michelle Mahovlich set the vehicle procession in motion.
Also taking part in the event was Mitzi Dean, MLA (Esquimalt-Metchosin) representing Premier John Horgan (MLA, Langford-Juan de Fuca), saying “our government is committed to solving broader transportation challenges in our region”.Federal Infrastructure and Communities Minister Amarjeet Sohi was in Langford earlier this summer to see the West Shore Parkway construction in progress. On August 2 (one of the hottest days of the year) he took a tour of the construction site with Mayor Stew Young, saying it was an opportunity for him to see up close how federal infrastructure dollars are being spent.
Today Stew Young told media that “infrastructure dollars are coming west”. He noted how traffic growth in the region is increasing by about 2% to 3% per year, adding that the provincial government taking action to improve Highway 1 with HOV lanes and other improvements is action required now, not to be delayed with further studies.
Today’s official opening of the parkway was held by the non-used E&N Railway line where it crosses the parkway. To media, Young reiterated a view he’s held for some time, that shifting transportation issues from the non-profit area (presently E&N Railway issues are handled by the Island Corridor Foundation) to the provincial level is the right way to go now. And the federal government has funding for this, he added. “Getting the business community on side to show the importance of improved transportation” is important now.
Tuesday, October 3 ~ LANGFORD. The City of Langford will open the last segments of the new West Shore Parkway on Wednesday, October 4 at 11 am, following a 10 am ribbon cutting. Drivers in the area are asked to follow all signage and obey instructions of the Traffic Control Persons on site at all times.
This last connection of the 3.5km new West Shore Parkway will provide vehicle, cycling and pedestrian access from the Trans-Canada Highway 1 south to Sooke Road Highway14, and in doing so create a key north-south connection for the region.
The project has been funded through a New Building Canada Infrastructure grant, awarded in July 2015. The Government of Canada and Government of BC each contributed up to $7,450,856 through the Small Communities Fund, while the City of Langford was responsible for any remaining costs. In all, the total project value was $22.5 million.
Upon award of the grant, the City proceeded immediately to detailed design and construction of the parkway in segments, as some segments were already partially constructed, while others were not at all constructed. Of note, several local contractors were instrumental in the completion of this project for the City.
On the project, Langford Mayor Stew Young stated: “The City of Langford is very excited about the completion of the West Shore Parkway, which is the largest grant project completed in the City of Langford to date. The West Shore Parkway will improve traffic in and around
Langford and the West Shore, promote the development of a range of housing options and businesses, and provide residents with a number of transportation options via the new bike lanes, sidewalks and transit stops.”
MLA for Esquimalt-Metchosin Mitzi Dean on behalf of the BC Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Claire Trevena said: “This new connection between Highway 1 and Highway 14 provides a safe, alternative route for cyclists, pedestrians and drivers that will save everyone time when travelling between communities on the West Shore.”
The Federal Minister of Infrastructure and Communities, Honourable Amarjeet Sohi, noted: “The Government of Canada is investing in road and highway infrastructure to improve traffic flow and public safety while supporting middle-class job creation and economic growth. I am pleased to see that our funding has made it possible to complete the West Shore Parkway, which will improve local connections to the TransCanada and create safer, more efficient commutes.”
Tuesday, October 3 ~ LANGFORD. It was another slam dunk for City of Langford Mayor Stew Young and his council last night, as they let the public have their way but in the end made a massive sweep of change for downtown Langford.
Frequently brief, Langford council meetings often wrap up in 15 to 20 minutes, with rapid-fire approval of sometimes a long list of Planning committee recommendations and zoning and variance approvals.
The October 2 meeting had that quick-approval pattern at the end. But the public hearing ahead of that lasted over an hour and a half. Mayor Young took heat for the discomfort that residents are feeling about the increasing cost of housing (the average sale price in September for a single family home in Langford was $710,110) and rental accommodation (now about $1,400 for a 1-bedroom rental apartment, or about $1,200 for just a studio), in-town traffic congestion, and protracted travel times for job commuters to areas of Greater Victoria beyond Langford.
It could be argued that Langford is now central to the Greater Victoria area, considering that population growth is ‘west-heavy’ into Langford, Colwood, and Sooke. About 500 to 600 housing units per year are built in Langford, and as many of those attract young families now even the schools are overflowing their students into portables and teacher shortages in SD62 are looming. And even that is apparently not enough to keep up with demand.
Long the pitch and hope of Stew Young that provincial government offices will eventually be built in Langford (as a key way to boost the tax base and reduce or eliminate commute times for workers), he’s been assembling the pieces for a long time. More housing, larger population, more immediate jobs in the region, attracting young families to the area, constructing another traffic route (West Shore Parkway, which fully opens this week), and pushing along BC Transit for more and better bus routes to and through Langford. Around the edges have been the other essential ingredients built such as town beautification and recreation.All of this the mayor provisioned to the crowd of about 120 people at Langford Council October 2, taking dozens of questions and getting a bit of raw feedback from residents angry about traffic congestion, loss of sunlight from higher buildings, noise, and the overall change to what Langford was to them.
Higher density is needed and actually appreciated by new residents who come to Langford for the relative affordability, the mayor explained. A new city core lifestyle has been evolving in Langford for a long time. The tipping point is now, as residents who knew Langford as a backwash to the Victoria core – but with the benefits of quiet, space and a slow pace – are feeling the transition-to-urban in real ways.
Several public comments noted how 300 more units being added in a development on Claude Road will cause further traffic congestion to Peatt Road which serves as a thoroughfare within and through Langford. As people move to the suburbs they are not abandoning their cars for use of the bus to the degree that transit planners would hope.As one resident summarized it… development is necessary for a growing city but it has to be done right. One suggestion was building townhomes instead of high rise apartments. But developers need a good return on their investment, especially as the City of Langford shifts the burden of road, sewer and other amenity development to the developers. The costs are shifted along by developers into the cost of housing for consumers.
All the ‘noise’ of the October 2 meeting – including a distraction about some buildings possibly being 12 storeys high — was a good cover allowing the public let off some steam — for the massive shift in the Official Community Plan (OCP) that Council approved thereafter … three areas of Langford that were beyond the town core (previously zoned ‘neighbourhood’) got 2nd and 3rd reading to be zoned City Centre (see pink areas on map – Bylaw 1738).
Some smaller adjacent areas in the OCP will be rezoned as Mixed Use Employment Centre, and Business or Light Industrial. Staff are to come up with a somewhat diminished building height maximum (not yet entirely specified) for the City Centre areas. This will allow for development of greater residential density and possibly office towers. Apparently the government office buildings won’t come until the population density has increased and is proximal to the office areas. Build it and they will come.At the tail end of the meeting, Mayor Young, Councillor Lanny Seaton, and Councillor Denise Blackwell left the room a few times (to avoid conflict of interest) over motions to pass developments on Meaford and Dunford and regarding a tax exemption for the Cherish Seniors Facility at Jacklin and Jenkins.
One member of the public had earlier noted that Langford Council listens but pushed things through anyway. It’s in this manner that Langford has been built to now a burgeoning town of over 40,000 people, poised as the shining urban jewel that puts Langford at the centre of it all.
Developer Jim Hartshorne of Keycorp Developments Ltd and developer Ron Coutre who is president of the West Shore Developers Association – both of whom stand much to gain by last night’s changes to Langford’s Official Community Plan — were present for what ended up being a 2-hour meeting on October 2 . Neither contributed any public comment.
Monday, October 2 ~ USA. A mass shooting in Las Vegas last night has taken the lives of at least 59 people and injured over 500. Investigators are surprised at the age of the shooter (64) who used automatic weapons to shoot randomly into a crowd that was attending an open-air rock concert. The shooter was found dead by self-inflicted injury in a tall building within range of the concert.
Sunday, October 1 ~ EDMONTON. Attack in Edmonton. A police officer and four others were taken to hospital in Edmonton on Saturday night September 30 following a violent rampage by a 30-year-old Somali immigrant man. Police say the man showed no active signs of terrorist recruitment or radicalization.
Today BC Premier John Horgan issued a statement, including: “I was shocked and saddened to learn of last night’s violent attacks against police and the people of Edmonton. British Columbians stand united with the people of Alberta – and all Canadians – against violence and hate in all its forms.”
Sunday, October 1 ~ NATIONAL. The federal NDP have a new leader. Today October 1, Jagmeet Singh won the NDP Leadership race on the first ballot with 53.8% of valid votes cast.
An Osgoode Law School graduate, Singh won with 35,266 votes. Overall turnout was 52.8 per cent of eligible NDP member voters.
Fundraising, polls and membership sign-ups suggested that Singh was on track for a strong first ballot result, though winning on the first ballot is an NDP feat only achieved in the past by Tommy Douglas and Jack Layton.
There were strong indications throughout the campaign that Singh’s support was largely being drawn from new members, though some seasoned MPs (like Randall Garrison, Esquimalt-Saanich-Sooke) were vocally supportive in recent weeks. Pre-existing members of the party opted largely for the other three leadership candidates — Charlie Angus, Niki Ashton and Guy Caron — who are sitting MPs and long-time party figures.
The NDP are obviously looking for new hope and a fresh start with a leader who brings new skills, talents and celebrity charm to the role. This will put Singh as the NDP leader up against Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (Liberal) and Andrew Scheer (Conservative) in the Fall 2019 federal election.
Friday, September 29 ~ VANCOUVER. He said he’d heard it was unusual to hang out for the entire week at a Union of BC Municipalities convention, but Premier John Horgan made it clear he was there to integrate as deeply as possible with the mayors and councillors of municipalities from across British Columbia. These are the people who are ‘on the ground’ meeting with constituents face to face. He needs those connections.
In his speech on Friday, September 29 — joking it would be rivaled as ‘the biggest speech ever’ at a UBCM convention (playing on the spoof popularity of crowd-size assertations on Saturday Night Live) — he went light on specifics about the wide range of deliverables that his NDP government still plans to roll out. Already, in the first few weeks since taking office in July 2017, Horgan and his ministers have been going down the checklist of campaign promises, including increased disability and income assistance, promising to build more housing considered ‘affordable’, and a focus on mental health and addiction.
Today he reiterated what is already in Selina Robinson’s mandate letter as Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, that the promised 114,000 housing units will be in market rental, non-profit, co-op, supported social housing, and owner-purchase housing. However, some specifics included an announcement about 600 modular homes in being available for the Vancouver area, with 150 in Surrey, and more in Smithers “and any other community that modular will fit with your package of solutions”. The Premier described the homes as inexpensive, quick to place, and movable. He told municipal leaders officials: “If you’ve got land and zoning, we’ve got the cans. Let’s get this going.”
And while on the surface it sounded positive, Premier Horgan did level a bit of a blow to his own home riding, where the City of Langford is bidding on bringing the new Amazon Headquarters 2 (HQ2) to south Vancouver Island. As reported in West Shore Voice last week, the Amazon project is an opportunity for some 50,000 jobs and billions of dollars in investment. In the same breath as saying “let’s bring more high tech jobs to BC,” and encouraging all communities to step up to the Amazon bid process, Horgan said the BC government will financially back only Vancouver’s bid for Amazon HQ2, to the tune of $50,000.
Horgan pitched to “work with everybody in this room” to come up with innovative ways — all levels of government working together – for “a better BC for all of us”. He itemized the need for resource jobs, as well as in high tech, tourism, agriculture and manufacturing. “Every corner of BC has something to offer the world. It starts by working together,” Horgan said.
He talked about the opioid crisis, with solutions seen as being in opening up more treatment centres, increasing anti-trafficking in law enforcement, and having already set up a new ministry of Mental Health and Addictions.
Regarding the threat to the BC softwood lumber industry, Horgan gave the crowd in Vancouver some verbal muscle, without specifics: “If the US wants to go to court… we’ve won every dispute we’ve had, and we’ll win this one as well.”
Premier Horgan said he had a bit of fun while in Vancouver by suiting up with professional firefighters of BC at the Vancouver fire operations centre, in the wake of having visited wildfire areas of the BC Interior this past summer. The worst fire season in BC’s history, this past summer saw communities devastated, people dislocated, and small businesses seriously set back. Dealing with the wildfire scenario was Horgan’s first major requirement for action after he became Premier on July 18. ~ WSV
Tuesday, September 26 ~ BC. Government undertakes fiscal sustainability review
“Trust but verify” and “garbage-in garbage-out” are sayings that come to mind with this BC finance announcement about checking the quality of the information upon which earlier budget projections were based.
It’s a fiscal sustainability review and it makes good sense for a new government to do this.
Indeed, the BC Ministry of Finance released a statement today saying that the review will “help inform the development of Budget 2018 and the next three-year fiscal plan”. It will include a review of financial information submitted to the Province by specific Crown corporations and the broader schools, universities, colleges and health (SUCH) sector.
Independent consultants have been contracted to help the provincial government assess the quality of financial information built into the baseline assumptions in the budget development process. The goal of the review is to assess the information, evaluate risks and identify options that will assist the Province with developing, monitoring and managing to its overall fiscal plan targets.
The review covers selected significant Crown corporations including: BC Lottery Corporation | BC Hydro | Insurance Corporation of British Columbia | Liquor Distribution Branch | BC Housing Management Commission (including Provincial Rental Housing Corporation).
In addition, the review will include a high-level assessment of the information provided by SUCH (schools, universities, colleges and health) sector entities through the ministries responsible for their fiscal planning, monitoring and management.
The review will be completed in advance of Budget 2018 in order for information to be incorporated and reflected in Budget 2018.
“This review will help inform the decisions we make as a government as we work to build Budget 2018,” said Minister of Finance Carole James, in a news release September 26. “My expectation is that the review will give government a better picture of the risks, finances and fiscal forecasts of significant Crown corporations and SUCH sector entities, so that we foster long-term fiscal sustainability in planning and developing our budgets and decisions.”
Minister James said that “every additional dollar that is carefully managed can be used to help make life more affordable for people, invest in services and build a strong, sustainable economy.”
Saturday, September 23 ~ LANGFORD. If you don’t try, you’ll never know. The City of Langford with its go-after-it can-do attitude and team approach has assembled a bid to attract Amazon to the west shore of Vancouver Island.
They’re responding to a tender put out by Amazon on September 7 for a location at which the online retailer can set up their second North American headquarters (HQ2 for short). HQ2 would be a full equal to the company’s main headquarters in Seattle, WA said Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder and CEO, in a statement earlier this month.
After their October 19 deadline, Amazon will be seeing Langford’s pitch in front of them along with at least 50 bids from major cities across North America (likely including, in Canada, these — Ottawa, Calgary, London, Edmonton, Toronto).
If nothing else, it’s good international exposure for Langford, but Langford Mayor Stew Young and senior staff are optimistic.
“We have great transportation routes, an international airport and seaplanes,” said Mayor Young this week. Of course, the $5 billion that the online retailer would spend to build HQ2 would be the first great part of Amazon putting down roots in Langford.
Amazon HQ2 would eventually employ up to 50,000 people full time over a 10-year period. In addition to Amazon’s direct hiring and investment, construction and ongoing operation of Amazon HQ2 would create tens of thousands of additional jobs and tens of billions of dollars in additional investment in the surrounding community.Langford offers an already established commercial hub within the west side of the island lifestyle, similar to the laidback lifestyle that Amazon offers their employees. Here the perks would be lots of indoor and outdoor recreation, modern digital services, universities and colleges, and relative housing affordability. And more… including locally three lakes that Langford has in within its boundaries plus nearby hiking, fishing and trails along the west coast.
As well, being in Canada would offer the US company a cheaper dollar as well as trade agreements into Europe and Asia that are separate from NAFTA, which is probably why the Request for Proposal (RFP) was not limited to American cities.
Stew Young was approached by the business community to give this bid a shot, even though the Amazon RFP states the need for a base population of 1 million people. Greater Victoria is about 370,000 people, but the extended region could be seen to include adjacent regions of Vancouver Island, and by ferry-extension, the lower mainland.
In the last few years Langford’s population has surpassed 40,000 and the development community keeps on building houses, townhomes, condos and rental apartments to help Langford try and keep up to housing demand.
Amazon’s headquarters in Seattle is comprised of 33 buildings, in total about 8.1 million sqft. That includes 24 restaurants/cafes and eight other services. Their capital investment in buildings and infrastructure was $3.7 billion. Operational expenditures are $1.4 billion (utilities/maintenance). Employee payroll is about $25.7 billion/yr. About $43 million is paid into Seattle’s transportation system. In 2016 about 233,000 hotel nights were booked by visiting Amazonians and guests.
Amazon estimates its investments in Seattle resulted in an additional $38 billion to the city’s economy (2010-2016) – every dollar invested by Amazon generated an additional 1.4 dollars for the city’s economy overall.
Naturally there is buzz in cities across North America to throw their hats into this enormous ring. Some financial critics say the magnitude of the project could overwhelm a city or region that is not prepared to handle it. On the other hand, it’s an opportunity that likely comes once in a city’s lifetime.
The closing date for the RFP is right around the corner. The entire tech industry and community of municipalities in Canada and the US are keen to see how this one plays out.
This article was first published in the Print/PDF September 22, 2017 issue of West Shore Voice News.
Thursday, September 21 ~ LANGFORD. Some underground utility construction, lane improvements and signal light installations are a composite project by G&E Contracting, CRD Integrated Water Services and the City of Langford in preparation for major construction on the former Jacklin Road Belmont high school site.
The work will periodically impact vehicle traffic flow Mondays to Saturdays (7am to 6pm) at and around the intersection of Jacklin Road (Jenkins to Terlane) and also at Jenkins Avenue (Jacklin to Brittany Drive).
All of that is near the Westshore Town Centre retail area and affecting the major thoroughfare that is Jacklin Road to shops, restaurants and as a connector to the Goldstream Ave business centre of Langford.
The new West Shore Parkway (from Hwy 14 to Langford Parkway, and soon to the Trans Canada Highway) is one route that will help motorists avoid the Jacklin Road slowdowns.
The engineering work will be completed in summer 2018, says the City of Langford’s engineering department. No night work is anticipated for the remainder of 2017. Any changes or significant lane closures will be announced.
Redevelopment of the former school site will include a new 56,000 sq ft Thrifty Foods store as the anchor tenant within the Belmont Market Shopping Centre (a 200,000 sq ft retail complex by Sobeys Developments). All of that bordered by Jacklin Road, Jenkins Road, Brittany Drive and the Galloping Goose Regional Trail. An additional 144,000 sq ft of retail and office space will be situated throughout the multi-acre site with as many as 860 surface parking spaces.
It’s a three-phase commercial project. Phase One of the development (Thriftys as anchor, plus five more retailers with storefronts 5,800 to 13,000 sqft) is the portion aiming to be completed in summer 2018. A 330-unit residential component (including rental apartments and some townhomes) will span the southern perimeter of the property, backing onto the Galloping Goose Regional Trail.
Wednesday, September 20 ~ BC. VICTORIA – The Government of British Columbia has introduced legislation to put an end to big money in politics and put people back at the heart of government decision-making. Premier John Horgan made the announcement yesterday.
And while it fulfills a campaign promise toward fairness in the electoral system, there’s a catch. This fiscal year it will cost the taxpayers big bucks to fund the transition, with a dwindling effect over five years to 2022.
“We’re reforming campaign finance rules to make sure government’s actions and decisions benefit everyone, not just those with deep pockets,” said Premier John Horgan yesterday in a news conference and news release.
“This legislation will make sure 2017 was the last big-money election in our province,” said Attorney General David Eby. “The days of limitless donations, a lack of transparency and foreign and corporate influence over our elections are history.”
The Election Amendment Act, 2017, will:
* End corporate and union donations
* Limit individual contributions to $1,200 a year, the second-lowest limit in Canada; fundraisers at private residences will have an imposed cap of $100 per person.
* Ban out-of-province donations
* Cap contributions to third-party election advertisers
* Require ongoing public reporting of all fundraisers attended by major party leaders, cabinet ministers and parliamentary secretaries, including those held in private residences
* Reduce campaign spending limits for candidates and political parties by about 25%
* Set new fines and penalties for contraventions of election financing and advertising laws
“These unprecedented changes will not only end the ‘wild west’ of campaign fundraising, they are an important step in modernizing our democracy,” Eby said.
The bill contains several transitional provisions, including restrictions on the use of contributions received before the legislation comes into force. Political contributions previously collected that are not allowed under the new rules – including prior donations from unions and corporations or funds collected from a person in excess of $1,200 – cannot be used in future elections.
The Election Amendment Act, 2017, introduces a transitional annual allowance for political parties over a set term of five years. The allowance diminishes in value over time and is intended to help political parties transition to the new campaign finance rules. A special committee of the legislature will review the allowance to determine if it should be continued. If no action is taken, the allowance will expire in 2022.
BC Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver had this to say about it: “This is a historic day for our province’s democracy. Big money has been the defining feature of what is broken in BC politics. Now, one year after BC Greens banned corporate and union donations to our own party, we will ban it province-wide once and for all. I am delighted that 2017 will go down in history as the last big money election in BC.”
Weaver thanked David Eby and his office for their diligent work bringing this bill forward so early in the session. “In the days and weeks ahead, we will work with the government to ensure that this legislation is comprehensive and adequately addresses the issues with the current system.”
Over the next four years, taxpayers will foot a bill of $6.8 million for the BC NDP and the BC Liberal parties. The Green Party will be allotted $2.8 million over the same four year period.
The BC Liberals had long refused to limit political donations despite repeated criticism of the party’s fundraising practices, including cash-for-access events in which donors paid up to $10,000 for a chance to sit down with the premier.
“As Prime Minister Trudeau’s government doubles down on plans to change the way Canadian small business owners are taxed, entrepreneurs themselves are divided on the potential impacts of two of the most significant amendments – a divide driven largely by the size of their own ventures, and the amount of risk their businesses are carrying,” says an Angus Reid Report today based on their latest public opinion survey.
Both entrepreneurs and Canadians who don’t own businesses were surveyed. The results apparently show neither blind support for the government’s so-called “tax fairness” agenda, nor blanket outrage suggested by the fiercest opponents of proposed changes. “Small business owners do not react in a monolithic way to the amendments,” says the report.
Regarding proposed alterations to income sprinkling, the survey showed that 24% feel it will negatively affect their business and 44% said it would be unfair. When it comes to changes dealing with passive investment income, the perceived negative impact among business owners is higher at 42%, as is the view the changes are unfair (55%).
Overall, Canadians are evenly divided as to whether the changes will make the tax system fairer or harm business investment, with small businesses not surprisingly lean toward the harm factor.
See the editorial “On this one, Trudeau has it all wrong” in West Shore Voice News – September 8, 2017 issue (page 2), for further analysis on why the Trudeau government might want to cancel these proposed changes.
Sunday, September 17 ~ SOOKE. Today lots of people will gather to celebrate the fall harvest season with a celebration about apples!
The 4th Annual Sooke Apple Festival, hosted by the Sunriver Community Gardens and Orchard, will be held 10 am to 2 pm, at the Sunriver Community Gardens, 2380 Phillips Road. The family-friendly community gathering helps raise funds for the Sooke Region Food Community Health Initiative (Sooke Food CHI). Admission by donation. Parking available along Phillips Road.
All things apples includes apple sales, identification, bobbing, hand-pressed apple juice, tasting and orchard tours. All of that backed by music (The Chick Wagon Band).
As an ongoing project, Sooke Food CHI has acquired an apple press with funds raised from last year’s event. Today press your own juice to take home. Bring at least 15 pounds of apples and your containers. Apples should be mature, washed, and must be free from decay. Containers should be wide mouthed with tight lids. Bring a cooler to store your juice.
The press will be further available for use at the Community Gardens during the fall. Check the website for dates: sookefoodchi.ca
The Apple Shack: The Apple Shack is the Apple Learning Centre. It was built in the summer of 2013. During Apple Fest, it will have displays and lots of information about apples and the Sunriver Community Orchard. Ann Aylard from BC’s Fruit Tree Testing organization will be on hand to help the public identify apple varietals from their property.
Fundraiser: The Apple Festival is a Sooke Food CHI fundraiser for the community orchard and other Food CHI activities.
Food vendors include Coastal Crunch, Three Sisters, Livin’ the Dream, Jenny’s Kitchen, Dakini Tidal Wilds, Buddha Box and the Coffee Cantina. Games for families and kids are organized by Emily Moreland and friends, 11 am and 2 pm.
Thursday, September 14 ~ LANGFORD. Up on Bear Mountain they’re teeing up for a 3-day PGA Championship Tournament that will run Friday September 15 through Sunday September 17. Today September 14 a Pro-Am round was followed by media interviews above the 18th green.
Long-time pro golfer Sir Nick Faldo, now 60, has had a 13-year career in TV sports media on the CBS golf channel, but said that he still likes competing. “It’s nice to throw some golf into it for a change,” he told reporters outdoors under bright blue skies at the Bear Mountain Resort. He revealed some tips for great golf success, including learning to “pull the right club” and “picking the right shot at the right time”. He explained that in golf you’re making decisions all the time. “You can play well but not land in the right spot” but you can “still make a good shot in the wrong place”.
Last year’s Pacific Links Bear Mountain Champion Colin Montgomerie, 54, said the standards at the Bear Mountain Golf Course are “exceptionally high”. He said that Jack Nicklaus and his son Steve Nicklaus have done “a super job putting together a challenging course” requiring accuracy of the tee and position of the ball. “It’s not a sloggers golf course,” he said. The mountain-side terrain is the defining factor.
This year the 3-day championship tournament of 54 holes will not be televised, due to some funding complexities. “Whether it’s televised or not we’re going to give it 100 per cent,” Montgomerie told media. “The field (of players) is stellar,” he said. There are 78 competitors including five exemptions, three restricted, two unrestricted and four event qualifiers.The Pacific Links Bear Mountain Championship is an official event on PGA Tour Champions featuring the world’s premiere golfers ages 50 and older. This year they are competing for a $1.8 million USD purse (down from $2.5 million last year). The first place winner takes home $270,000 (about 26% of the total purse). The second-place winner takes 23.2% of the purse. Percentages drop from there, but all players get a cut. If a position is tied, all winners in that position get an equal split of the percentage for that level, explained Pacific Links Tournament Director Brad Parkins.
Parkins says it took 2 months for Pacific Links International to get ready to host this week’s PGA tournament. “It’s a spectacular place at Bear Mountain. The surroundings are picturesque and beautiful, and it’s a great resort with everything on site. Players don’t require a car or shuttle to get to the course or restaurants, it’s all here with their accommodation on site,” he said. Similarly, Montgomerie had high praise for the Bear Mountain Resort facility, with everything in one spot.
The local economic impact of the event is expected to be one of the largest ever in the Victoria region and certainly the largest ever in Langford. Reports indicate that the spend on hotels, food, beverage and entertainment, local supplier and services purchases, and spin-off benefits can be estimated in the $15 to $17 million range.
About 35,000 spectators throughout the week are expected to attend the event. Over 700 volunteers have been required to help pull off all the various support activities during this week and coming weekend.
A tournament daily pass for Friday-Sunday is $40+tax, including serviced charge — valid any one day of tournament rounds (Friday, Saturday or Sunday). Tickets are available online at www.PacificLinksChampionship.com
As for the region and enjoying apart from golf, Faldo remarked about vacationing on Vancouver Island with two of his daughters. Montgomerie called the overall Bear Mountain and Langford-Highlands area “one of the most beautiful places on Earth”.
Monday, September 11 ~ LANGFORD. Bus transportion has expanded in the west shore with a new terminal in the Westhills area of Langford. It’s part of supporting commuters who live in Langford who head to Saanich, Victoria and beyond for employment and attending post-secondary.
The announcement was made with a formal ribbon cutting event today September 11 at the location on Westhills Way where buses on three routes will drop off and pick up riders near the YWCA and Langford Heritage branch library.
VIPs who made the official announcement at the Westhills Terminal under mid-morning bright skies were City of Langford Mayor Stew Young, BC Transit Director Susan Brice, and BC Transit President and CEO Manuel Achadinha.
Mayor Stew Young was appreciative of the working partnership with BC Transit, noting the role of political support toward success of infrastructure enhancements. Stew Young and was pleased about the enhanced transit services for Langford residents who commute to work or school, says that buses are filling up both ways. “Making it easier to get to and from Langford makes the most sense and supports the growth of our community,” Mayor Young said.
Long-time Saanich politician Susan Brice of course see the benefits to UVic and Camosun students and employees of those large institutions, both located in Saanich. “We’re glad to always be working with Langford,” she told the crowd about 40 people gathered for the occasion. In the bigger picture, Brice said that there are eight new buses in the BC Transit system this fall and 20,000 more service hours. She was pleased about increased service to the west shore, with BC Transit aiming to “keep exploring ways to improve and enhance services”.
Bus lanes and priority lanes for moving commuter traffic in and out of the town core was given support in remarks by Brice, which is good news for Langford. Stew Young pitched that an announcement about HOV lanes could be coming soon.BC Transit CEO Manuel Achadinha also spoke about the success of partnerships at the provincial and local levels. “Langford is a city that is growing,” he said, happy to be working directly with the City itself and with the Westhills Development as their latest partner. “Langford is fast-growing community in the region here, and we welcome our new partners,” said Achadinha.
The official opening of the new Westhills BC Transit Terminal on Westhills Way is a jointly-funded project through the City of Langford, the Westhills Development and BC Transit. The new Westhills BC Transit Terminal is providing increased transit service from the Westshore to the University of Victoria, the Department of National Defence (DND) and Dockyard. People who work or study at UVic and Camosun College, and in all parts of Greater Victoria beyond Langford will benefit immediately by this expanded service.
The new routes are #39 Westhills-Camosun, #46 Dockyard-Westhills, and #57 Thetis Heights/Westhills. The terminal started operating last Tuesday, where there is also a park-and-ride area for vehicles. The advantage is about having multiple stops in one location in the rapidly expanding Westhills area which includes the Belmont Secondary School and nearby rugby playing fields.
Mayor Stew Young was joined by City of Langford Councillors Denise Blackwell, Lanny Seaton, and Lillian Szpak for the announcement today as well as engineering and senior staff. Also attending was District of Sooke Mayor Maja Tait who participates on the BC Transit commission as part of a west shore contingent. Westhills staff were also there for the big day.
For the most part, Justin Trudeau as Canada’s 23rd Prime Minister has pulled this country forward in many admirable and respectable ways. He helped out thousands of refugees, set leadership for gender equity, brought youth into the political loop, has bridged relations with Trump and the USA well enough so far, and is standing firm on a broader goal to peace regarding North Korea.
However, when it comes to truly understanding the impact of proposed tax revisions for small business in Canada, Trudeau and finance minister Bill Morneau are completely off base.
It’s simply just not accurate, shows poor observational skills and short-sighted analysis to lump all smaller-than-the-largest corporations under one umbrella. And then essentially assume that most of them are up to no good.
Accountants will tell you they’re seeing more scrutiny already against small businesses, and that’s even before the tax legislation has been changed. This is the Liberal strategy to ‘take from the rich and give to the poor (middle class)’.
But what they don’t seem to get is that there is really no firm middle class any more — everybody is a worker. What vestiges of a middle class that remain will meet their deathknell by way of these proposed spirit-crushing tax strategies.
Trudeau says tax changes are aimed at ensuring wealthy Canadians pay their fair share. But these are in many cases not ‘wealthy’ people, just people who work hard at their game to achieve a good living. Affected by the proposed new legislation (which seems to be barreling ahead) will be such a range of small businesses that no one will be unaffected. Professionals like doctors will be impacted, as well as your car repair shop, your web designer, your fitness trainer… anybody who runs their own enterprise, particularly if they are incorporated.
Not only does this shrivel up the last remaining hopes of starry-eyed entrepreneurs and the self-employed, it will have a trickle-down effect into the rate of hiring and the cost of services. Small businesses generate most of the new jobs. And nowadays not many people are much above keeping their heads above water in a paycheque-to-paycheque/fixed-income economy, additionally burdened by two Bank of Canada interest-rate increases in recent months.
Small businesses incorporate for various reasons, not the least of which is to create an arms-length relationship between owner and enterprise (which is healthy). If going after the incorporated small business owner as the key source for shoring up federal coffers to pay for other programs, they are shaving away the success of some of the country’s hardest-working, most devoted citizens whose talents and enterprise create jobs and prosperity for those around them. Leveling the playing field between proprietors and wage earners shows a deep unawareness of or disregard for the level of risk and often self-imposed responsibility that proprietors take compared to wage-earners. One could also say it’s a bit of divide-and-conquer, by pitting the ‘working class’ against those ‘nasty’ so-called ‘wealthy’ folks who on the surface generate more income, but at the end of the day are often left with a similar take-home pay and more incorporation-related overhead to pay.
The proposed tax changes would undo tax incentives that middle-class entrepreneurs have relied on for decades to fund their retirements, retain cash in their companies to tide them over in leaner times, provide for their families, and protect their businesses if they choose maternity or become ill. Small businesses don’t have pension plans or sick leave like salaried employees do. In many ways they live on the edge, with nothing or no one to bail them out if they falter. And yet as a society we benefit by and appreciate their services. If running one’s own business becomes nothing more than an overly-responsible job without any perks, then the proposed tax changes are a death knell to a wide cross-section of industrious, creative people who contribute a special edge and verve to the economy. It’s an unkind, unthinking blow to that high-spirited innovative drive that is almost uniquely Canadian. It’s like a targeted kill of a treasured natural resource. Odd.
As Capital Regional District (CRD) Chair Barb Desjardins put it this week: “I’m quite worried about it. I understand the direction but it’s been targeted to the wrong group of people. This will target middle income earners. It will affect small business in a significant way and will be problematic. They aren’t the people you want to hurt.”
Write a letter to the Minister of Finance on this one, or do what you can to support the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) which has effectively articulated concerns about this for a quite a while. Even several federal Liberal MPs have publicly voiced opposition to their government’s plan on this.
If it goes through, this legislation will be a game-changer for the overall fabric of the Canadian economy that in many ways would over time become irreversible. And let’s get down to brass tacks. At the very least, Trudeau may wish to rethink the small business tax revisions in order to retain for 2019 many of the business-class votes that shifted his way in 2015.
This is a government that seems prepared in almost every instance to barrel ahead with the right to rule. And it’s tolerated, because most Canadians seem satisfied with having seen Canada advance in many ways since 2015. But in this instance, it’s time to admit a wrong turn, back up, and change direction.
Friday, September 8 ~ BC. First BC NDP Throne Speech in 16 years
EDITORIAL INSIGHTS by WEST SHORE VOICE NEWS.
The tone of a Throne Speech as penned by an NDP government would of course sound different than that of the previous longstanding BC Liberal government. Listening to and supporting the people was espoused.
What was notably “21st century” for an NDP budget was a more definitive articulation of interrelationships with municipalities, industry, business and a wider range of population sectors.
The 30-minute address was delivered by Lt Gov Judith Guichon at 2pm on Friday September 8. Just a few months ago she had made the tough decision to pull the plug on the Christy Clark BC Liberals and give the NDP (with threeGreen Party MLAs in tow) a chance at leading British Columbia with a minority government.
To that point, the speech dropped something of a ‘bomb’ by announcing the next fixed election date as being in Fall 2021. That gives BC Premier John Horgan and his government a full four years to roll out their people-first policies and make them stick. Fixed-date elections would follow every four years.
The new government is also promising to deliver on Proportional Representation by setting the terms for a referendum by November 2018, in favour of reform “so that citizens can be sure that every vote counts”. Big money donations (corporate and union) will be eliminated and individual donors to political parties will have to be residents of BC.
Answering to one of the overriding NDP themes in the May 2017 election, came this: “Too many families were left behind for too long. It’s time that we made life more affordable.” Most families will be happy to hear that, but opponents will watch to see how that is accomplished with stability in the budget.
The government says it will consult with the public on various things ahead of delivering the first full budget in February 2018. Meanwhile, the Throne Speech purported some first steps toward making life more affordable such as helping renters by closing fixed term lease loopholes, and increasing support to the Residential Tenancy Branch toward fair treatment for both tenants and landlords.
A Fair Wages Commission will put BC on a path to a $15/hour minimum wage, by setting the course for stable and predictable increases over time.
Action is being taken to fix the problems at ICBC and BC Hydro, it was stated in the speech, to make sure that Crown corporations can deliver the “best possible service… at the lowest possible cost.”
A legislated poverty reduction plan will be brought in, with that work getting underway in the coming weeks.
Government says it will deliver a province-wide child care program, starting with the creation of more spaces and training more early childhood educators. Consultations with families and child care providers will be undertaken this fall.
Housing affordability was addressed with a statement about working with municipalities, cooperatives and the private sector to increase the supply of rental, social, co-op and owner-purchase homes.
The promise overall is for “relief from high costs and fees, better access to services, and an economy that works for everyone.”
Meanwhile, BC Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver said in a news release after the Throne Speech that he is “pleased to see so many BC Green ideas included in the new blueprint for government.” He continued: “This session, we will finally see corporate and union donations banned following the lead we took a year ago in banning them from our Party. We will see lobbying reform, a BC Green initiative, which will go even further towards ending the undue influence of special interests in our politics. BC will also have an Innovation Commissioner, one of the ideas in our emerging economy platform that will help ensure BC’s long term economic prosperity.” Weaver was encouraged by increased funding for public education as one of “the best investments government can make”.
The Greens are integral to maintaining a go-forward minority government. However, Weaver explained that the Green MLAs will not always agree with everything the government does. “As with any relationship, this disagreement is healthy. All three parties share many values and goals, though we might sometimes differ on the best ways to implement them. There is much we can accomplish together if we are willing to engage in thoughtful, productive debate and to consistently put the interests of our constituents first.”
Thursday, September 7 ~ BC. Things are gearing up for an active session at the BC Legislature under the new BC NDP government.
Lt Gov Judith Guichon will open the second session of the 41st Parliament of British Columbia on Friday, September 8. She will read the speech from the throne starting at 2 pm. The speech will be viewable live at www.leg.bc.ca
Tuesday, September 5 ~ VICTORIA AREA. There are overcast skies in the south Vancouver Island area today September 5, as the skies are filled with smoke from wildfires occurring in Washington State and the BC Interior. The sun appears red through the haze.
Environment Canada issued a smoky skies advisory about it this morning.
Sunday, September 3 ~ OTTAWA. North Korea announced this weekend that it had detonated its sixth and most powerful nuclear test yet, which it declared a “perfect success.”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau issued the following statement in response to North Korea’s latest testing of a nuclear weapon:
“Canada unequivocally condemns North Korea’s nuclear test of September 3 which, combined with its aggressive program of ballistic missile testing, represents a clear and present threat to the safety and security of its neighbours and the international community.
“This most recent test, which appears to have been of a much greater magnitude than its five previous nuclear explosions, is in direct contravention of multiple UN Security Council resolutions, and demonstrates once again North Korea’s flagrant disregard of international law.
“These continued provocations by North Korea’s leadership, along with their profoundly dangerous push to develop nuclear weapons and test ballistic missiles near neighbouring countries, only serve to further isolate them.
“Canada has been steadfast in insisting that North Korea abandon its current course, including its aggressive rhetoric, and asks that it resumes constructive dialogue toward a comprehensive and verifiable solution.
“We urge the UN Security Council to take further decisive action to effectively constrain North Korea’s proliferation efforts, and call on all states to fully implement relevant UN sanctions.
“We will continue to work with key regional partners – including the United States, South Korea and Japan – as well as the broader international community, to counter the North Korean threat.”
Sunday, September 3 ~ VICTORIA. Statement from Premier John Horgan for Labour Day (September 4):
“On Labour Day we recognize the hard-working people of British Columbia, who built this province from the ground up. Labour Day is a day of rest, and an opportunity to reflect on the progress made by working people. The hard-fought victories of the labour movement over generations made life better for everyone.
“People who work hard deserve a government that works hard for them. Our government will increase the minimum wage, open the doors to apprenticeships and skills training, strengthen employment standards and create safer workplaces for all. Because building up our province starts by building up our people.
“I join you in celebrating this special day.”
On Monday, September 4, Premier John Horgan and Minister of Labour Harry Bains will be joining others, including Patty Hajdu, federal Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour, in an annual Labour Day celebration with the New Westminster and District Labour Council. Starting at 11:30 am in Holland Park, 13428 Old Yale Road, Surrey.
Saturday, September 2 ~ OPINION-EDITORIAL. At the crux of this Labour Day: ensuring worker safety. By Harry Bains, BC Minister of Labour.
Many forget that Labour Day is much more than an opportunity for backyard barbecues, community picnics and for some, a day off work. However, the true purpose of the holiday is a celebration of the achievements and progress of the working class.
Communities, big and small, urban or rural, depend on business and industry, not just for maintaining jobs and the tax base, but because they help define the culture and spirit of the place we call home. They rely on the bakeries, the unique gift shop, the local mechanic’s garage and community grocer that sponsor the little league team; and the large employers, the chains and franchises that invest in our cities and employ our families and neighbours. We owe much to these employers, but Labour Day is about what is also owed to the workers.
Throughout my career as a trade unionist, I have known one thing: workers want fairness. They want a level playing field for all workers. I have devoted my time to helping people gain a voice when discriminated against, when treated unfairly by the employer, when rights and freedoms are not respected. However, the biggest impact on me personally, professionally and politically was helping families find their voice after tragedy. I have stood beside loved ones mourning the loss of a family member, a husband or wife that they kissed goodbye in the morning for a day filled with promise, who never to return home because the promise of a safe workplace was broken.
Workers deserve and should demand safe working conditions. The legacy I hope to leave as the new Minister of Labour and first NDP Labour Minister in more than 16 years is to make British Columbia the safest jurisdiction in Canada for workers. We have come a long way, but more can be done and must be done!
Whether it’s ensuring safety for workers, giving workers a long overdue raise by increasing the minimum wage, or bringing back the Human Rights Commission dismantled by our predecessors, you can trust that your BC government is fighting for families on real issues, like affordability, good paying jobs and improved public services, as well as an economy that works for and is inclusive of everyone. Central to our promises this Labour Day is also our pledge to do everything we can to help reduce preventable work accidents, enforce regulations and support workers in their journey to get back to work.
On this Labour Day, join me in celebrating all that workers have done to make life better for themselves and their families.
Friday, September 1 ~ VANCOUVER ISLAND. Back to School Tips for Health. Water is the key to a healthy start as children head back to school. Children should be hydrated and their best defence against bringing home colds and flus is proper hand washing.
“Get your children into the habit of washing their hands frequently. Make it fun. Sing happy birthday twice while they scrub or find a soap scent that appeals to them,” says Dr. Dee Hoyano, Island Health Medical Health Officer. “There is no better way to prevent colds and the spread of germs in schools and daycares than hand washing.”
Along with a water bottle for hydration, children should also bring two healthy snacks and a well-balanced lunch to feed their active brains and bodies.
“Colour is the most visible indicator that your child’s lunch will successfully support learning,” says Areli Hermanson, Island Health dietitian. “Green and orange vegetables, blue and red fruit, we can tell by just by looking at them that they are packed with vitamins and nutrients.”
The Island Health dietitian offers tips to make lunches healthy and fun:
Pack protein: meat & alternatives (i.e. chicken, eggs and lentils)
Wash and chop vegetables and fruit so they’re ready to eat
Choose single-serving lower-fat milk, plain yogurt and cheese (not processed)
Substitute sandwiches with whole grain crackers or mini pitas
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