In response to The Progress editorial of Dec. 16, ”Municipal tax relief unlikely,” I must contend that an increase in Chilliwack city taxes is not inevitable, but rather, city taxes should, for at least the near future, be frozen at current levels. And, as the council reviews their responsibilities to our community, residents could even expect taxes to decrease.
The recent municipal election was a very good example of how most civic governing bodies are placed in office, with very little participation from the voting public. This time less than 23 per cent of eligible Chilliwack voters participated in the election. Also, less than one per cent of taxpayers ever participate in the city survey, circulated every year during July’s tax collection. This means that our council is operating on mere hints of issues that may be important to our residents.
Five-year plans, 10-year plans, and everything that appears in our community has been dreamt up, proposed, and delivered by a very small group of people. I believe democratic government has more responsibility to constituents than appearing at the four-year election event, and then drifting back to the isolation of the office they pretend to have earned.
Voters are timid, and mostly unaware of the workings of their government. People generally will not publicly take issue with those in power. As a result we have allowed our government to become distant and detached from our community.
It is the council’s responsibility to correct this issue, not the voters. I am calling on our newly elected city council to freeze taxes at current levels. They must find ways to involve the citizens in decisions they want to make. No new financial obligations can be instituted, unless a majority of Chilliwack constituents agree. How this is done will take some innovative thinking, but we cannot continue to trust our city’s governance to such a small representative sample of our population.
“Democracy” seems to imply at least 50 per cent participation. Not 23 per cent, or less than one per cent. Relinquishing the council’s power means restructuring a system that has become divorced from its original purpose. I want a say in how our city is run, and I know most residents here do. The new council has the ability and the responsibility to make that a reality for most Chilliwack voters.
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