GERTIE issue is one of fairness

Tuesday, February 2 2016

The issue surrounding Mudge and DeCourcy Islanders having to pay tax for GERTIE is not related to the “social good.” The Ministry of Community, Sport and Cultural Development website states “regional districts are required to match the benefits and costs of its services to the people that benefit from the services.”  

The issue is one of fairness, as highlighted by the following points:

Yearly, Mudge and DeCourcy taxpayers contribute approximately 10 per cent of the money needed for the RDN Area B budget. For the proposed 2016 budget of roughly $950,000, this would amount to about $95,000, which is certainly not “mere pocket change.” 

Of the $95,000, more than $28,000 will go toward transit and community parks located on Gabriola. Mudge and DeCourcy Islanders get little benefit from either of these services because we are geographically removed from Gabriola, yet get taxed for the costs. 

Area B does not pay tax for transit service in the remainder of the RDN. Gabriola, Mudge or DeCourcy Islanders can use transit in Nanaimo by paying a fare. This should be the same case for Mudge or DeCourcy Islanders using GERTIE. 

In addition, Mudge, DeCourcy and Gabriola taxpayers who do not live in BC cannot vote in this referendum. Taxes for RDN services are property taxes, which a property owner, even one not living in BC, must pay. These owners are, however, excluded from being able to vote about whether they agree with a tax increase or not. 

I always believed the polity I lived in was somewhat democratic, but taxation without representation would indicate this is not always the case. Area B has been set up in a way that also makes it almost impossible for our small islands to request a change to a flawed system. 

Darcy Ambler

Mudge Island