LETTER: City council needs frugality lesson

“Often, business interests and public interests are not the same.”

We have a problem in government at all levels in Canada, a problem I believe we also see in Castlegar’s city council, past and present.

We have financially comfortable, middle and upper-middle class people in positions of decision-making power who do not experience the daily financial struggle of the poor, working class/blue collar, or lower-middle class. They do not understand the reality of having no money to throw around on non-essentials, and they spend taxpayers’ money accordingly.

Castlegar city council needs a lesson in frugality, and lower-income residents could teach this. You don’t spend money on extras when there is no expendable money available. Spending on parks or aesthetics or big advertising campaigns, attempting to lure tourism and big money residents, is non-essential spending.

Even with essential spending, as with infrastructure, you replace or upgrade things over time, not all at once, and only when it becomes necessary. The stated vision of this council includes “raising Castlegar’s visibility” and “advertising Castlegar’s centrality” in an effort to attract tourism and big money residents.

I have to ask why council is going courting on the taxpayers’ dollar in order to attract certain “types” of people while simultaneously making it harder for the people who already live here?

Often, business interests and public interests are not the same. Major tourism and upper-income residents would most likely drive the cost of living up in Castlegar to the point where many of the existing residents could no longer afford to live here.

Major increases in property taxes like the ones proposed will drive rents up, make the affordable housing and homelessness crises even worse, and stretch already-stretched homeowners perhaps to their breaking points. Steamrolling the most vulnerable members of society in order to achieve “progress” and “advancement” is neither progressive nor advanced.

I implore council to take a much closer look at the “needs” list versus the “wants” list versus the “someday later down the road” list and to scrutinize these lists with true frugality — one of the backbone characteristics underpinning Castlegar society since its beginning.

Jillian MacPherson