Wake Up Vancouver!

    Citizens for a Better Vancouver

An open letter to Mr. Eby

Mr. Eby,

Respectfully, cancelling your meeting with Vancouver homeowners on May 1, 2018 in the morning of the same day was too short short notice and not respectful of your constituents' time and interest in the very concerning matter of a redundant and punitive extra "school" tax on just some properties in the province.  You scheduled the meeting, cancelled it and tried to turn it into a conference call, reinstated the meeting, and then ultimately cancelled it at the last minute.  These actions appear disturbingly uncertain for our Attorney General, who should not irrationally fear and run from his constituents.  You say you will reinstate the meeting, yet again, but we have not heard anything from you in the last couple of days, and we are eager to meet with you to discuss the issue and express our concerns.

In case you opt not to have the meeting at all, briefly here is an overview of my concerns about your intention to add an extra tax on just some homeowners in the province based only on their property assessments:

Firstly, it is the government who does the property assessments, and the properties in the province, particularly in Vancouver, have been over-assessed for years due to foreign buyers escalating our housing prices.  Both the municipal and provincial governments should have stepped in years ago, starting in the the 1980's after Expo '86, to regulate off-shore investment and speculation, but our governments only encouraged the transactions, leaving local residents and homeowners to pay the price or move out, as many have.  For the government now to add insult to injury by trying to skim off a portion of these over-assessed property values is a conflict of interest that renders homeowners forever, and daily, at risk of losing their homes when wage increases in no way keep up with sudden and selective tax hikes on arbitrarily chosen home assessed-values.

Secondly, discriminating against and penalizing selectively and arbitrarily individuals who just happen to own a home that over the years has come to be assessed by the government at over $3 million (or any particular amount you might choose now or in the future), regardless of how long they have lived in the home or their current state of income, by charging them an extra tax is immoral and unfair.  You are stereotyping, painting people all with the same brush, casting too wide a net, assuming we are all "rich," which we are not.  Many of us had to work exceptionally hard and save for years to have the down-payment and then make mortgage payments for the better part of our lives to own a home.  Some of us are still paying off that mortgage, and we will also need our home equity for retirement because of being on fixed income.  Wages will not increase to cover this extra tax, and deferring the tax robs the homeowners you are targeting, and their beneficiaries, of their equity.  That is not fair.  

Thirdly, this extra tax payment is possible only by selling the home, which means losing the home to pay the tax.  The NDP should be working to end homelessness, not promote it.  You should be making housing more affordable, not more expensive.  In Vancouver, our City Council has increased our property taxes by over 50% in the past couple of years; wages do not increase anywhere near that amount, so we are all going into debt, and with the increases in gas prices, hydro, food, clothing, and all aspects of daily living, your extra "school" tax that you claim is to refill the coffers expropriated by failed ICBC is simply untenable.  It is also unfair to blame homeowners for governments' fiscal mismanagement. 

Fourthly, for landlords, these extra taxes will be passed onto their tenants.  How will that make renting more affordable in the city of Vancouver, which currently is in a rental crisis?  

In summary, everything about this arbitrary, extra tax on selected properties by presumed socio-economic class status is wrong.  In Vancouver, most people whose homes are now assessed at $3 million bought their properties many years ago at a much lower price; those same individuals would not be able to buy those same homes today -- those homeowners do not have the income to support the over-priced properties.  You are trying to squeeze blood from a stone.

Finally, I realize that as a lawyer, you are used to focussing on what you are allowed to do legally, not morally, but as a human and public servant, you must take ethical considerations into account and do what is right and good for the people you represent.  Just because you can do something legally does not mean you should.  And, with the conflict of interest reality, I am not certain that you can do it legally, either.  As an elected official, you must recognize that what is just and fair is determined by the needs and wants of the majority of your constituents, yet you were not transparent with them about instituting this extra tax when you were campaigning for election, and you did not seek their approval before inflicting this extra tax on them.  We would not vote for you today, knowing that you support this unfair tax. By electing you, we gave you the mandate to make decisions in our best interest, and we do not support this discriminatory and punitive extra "school" tax.  Therefore, please represent to Premier Horgan and the provincial government that you need to repeal this tax.

Thank you,ML

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Eby's Take 2.0 How clever yet so deceptive. 

Rental Increases