Election 2022 Needs YOUR Vote

A letter from one of our members hits the target of explaining why everyone in West Van should get involved, understand the implications for the future of our quality of life here, and VOTE on 15th October:

Mark your calendar for October 15th, three months away, with a reminder to get out and vote in our local election. It will be your only chance for the next four years to have a say in who serves on our DWV Council. Given that for various reasons the majority of West Vancouver residents, as elsewhere in our country, don’t bother to cast a ballot in a local election, those who do so exercise disproportionate influence over the budgets and policies, land use and other, that drive our municipal government. Why not be one of these people?

What will be the issues which dominate the next local election campaign? Likely the perennial ones of housing density and diversity, along with traffic and transportation.

This year, with the inflation rate hitting a forty year high, the rising cost of living will no doubt also be a front-of-the-mind concern for many West Vancouverites. In this regard, this week’s article in the NS News about the 2021 Census data on household incomes may strike a resonant chord with many. Two facts stand out: 1) the median household income for West Vancouver residents, as of 2020, was $104,000. Which means fully half our District’s households have an income below this amount, and 2) evidently, our community has huge income inequality (second highest in our country).

This second fact ought to be cause for considerable concern on the part of District Council and senior staff when setting annual property tax rates and utility fees. Is it? The record of recent years would seem to indicate otherwise. During a decade of virtually no population growth and extremely low inflation, DWV property taxes and utility fees have increased at unjustifiable rates.

As an example, between 2011 and 2021 the property taxes on our residential property in Ambleside, consistently assessed at under the District median value, increased by 48 percent. During the same decade, our utility fees increased by a whopping 87 percent.

This week Council set the District’s utility fees for 2023, having last December set them for 2022. In total, as a result of these two sessions, on a single family home assessed at the median value for the District, the water rates have increased by 11 percent, the sewer and drainage rates by just over 12 percent and the solid waste removal rates by fully 22 percent.

I suggest that our incoming Council must have a plan of action which will effectively constrain or, better yet, reverse the rising costs of operating our local government, one which truly respects the ability of West Vancouver residents, along with our few small business owner/operators, to carry the financial burden.

Candidates who aspire for election or re-election to DWV Council come October 15th next ought to be able to provide a clear and sincere commitment to develop such a plan on a top priority basis. If they can’t, or won’t, vote for someone else.

David Marley