I’m a resident Sidney property owner, taxpayer and buyer. This refers to the mayor’s and council’s approval of “A Bylaw to Establish a Business Improvement Area …” bylaw 2045, on March 11.
On February 26, before the vote, I encouraged the mayor and council to refrain from proceeding with its approval because, at the present time, the town cannot afford it and it is unlikely to provide much of any solution to the problems businesses in Sidney are facing.
Recent reports encourage me to have even more reservations about it now. Aside from the fact that it will increase some tax rates here and then the prices we face when we buy here.
The funding formula is like a cheque swap — what the Canada Revenue Agency takes exception to when it comes to using public funds like our taxes.
The town is to collect taxes from commercial property owners in the downtown area, then give it back to their representative, the BIA Society, to spend it on promoting their business interests. In tax jargon it is a scheme to give a personal benefit to a select group of businesses.
Under the Community Charter, a municipal bylaw is not valid if it is inconsistent with, or contravenes provincial (and as happens in this case, federal), legislation (S.10 (1) and (2)). The Sidney BIA Society has never held an annual general meeting to make its financial situation and management transparent to its members and the public — what all registered societies are required to do. The current provincial guidelines for granting taxpayer funds to those who want to provide public services in our community mean that the Sidney BIA Society is ineligible for a grant of any kind because it is not an operating society and it is not in the business of providing public services in the community.
It’s interesting that almost 40 per cent of those who were given a chance to vote on the by-law said no. Many of Sidney’s property owners, taxpayers and buyers weren’t given the same opportunity to express their views of the matter, even though they will be affected by it.