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LETTER: Port Alberni council’s leading taxpayers down an expensive, unwanted path

Quay to quay pathway has already cost us millions, and for what, asks writer

To the Editor,

Port Alberni city council’s purchase of the Somass Sawmill lands translates into a $500,000 annual loss of tax revenue to the city. But no worries. Offsetting this loss, is the taxation revenue from recent development in the city, or so goes the fuzzy math put forth by the mayor’s office.

For context, there needs to be two additional Uplands subdivisions, and one additional Port View Landing development completed this year to generate $500,000 of taxation revenue from the residential class at 2022 property assessment and mill rates, that would replace $500,000 of industrial class property tax lost. Many families in this city, having endured long labour disputes in the past, know all too well that the attendant loss of wages that resulted from their employment disruption, were never truly recovered. Lost wages, like lost tax revenue, is still lost income.

In the rush to secure a 400-metre stretch of land along the waterfront for part of a “visionary” path project, Mayor Sharie Minions’ administration paid $5.5 million for the Somass lands “as is, where is.” In doing so, they have exposed taxpayers to potential costly environmental cleanup, and simultaneously, loss of tax revenue for each year the city owns this land.

Some numbers: $7.2 million to construct, $5.5 million to obtain a few metres of waterfront land for a portion of the path, and a $500,000 annual loss of tax revenue on that land, and in year one $13.2 million has been committed to fulfill an exercise of council to build a path so that we’ll be more connected. It remains a waterfront path in name only, as it mostly follows the railway right-of-way. Even the picture tweeted by MLA Josie Osborne for the announcement of the grant funding for the path, shows Mayor Minions standing on the tracks above Roger Creek Park.

Council says they’re constructing a path – I say they’re leading us down one.

Roland Smith,

Port Alberni