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General News · 20th October 2019
Rob Chapman
My mother was born and raised in a small New England town where her Puritan ancestors had resided for 3 centuries. She was the embodiment of traditional values of pragmatism and self-sufficiency. From a working class background, she worked and raised 4 children. She retired at 65 with modest pension arrangements. She had no built up wealth, and her house was her retirement nest egg. She lived for a century and a fortnight. When failing health required her to migrate to assisted living, and later to more intensive care, her nest egg just about covered the cost for that, through her death. She was proud to make it all the way through as a self-sufficient citizen.
Our small community has a very significant population of retired seniors. If we retired at 65, we can hope to carry on for 20 – 25 years. Company or public service defined benefit pensions based on a working lifetime of service disappeared during our working lives. And so we retired on modest pensions. If we worked hard and had reasonable opportunities, we were able to eventually own our homes. At retirement, our homes became our nest eggs, the asset which would enable us to remain self-sufficient through our final senior years. We are able to defer our property taxes, to help to maintain a reasonable life style.
I worked from 1961 until 2008. In the latter part of my working life, for retirement planning, it never occurred to me that our nest egg for retirement would be eroded on an annual basis by taxation to fund operational requirements for non-essential services.
So that’s my question for my fellow islanders: Is it ethical to tax retirement nest eggs to fund operational expenses for non-essential services?
…Rob Chapman, Squirrel Cove
eroding your nest egg?
Comment by Stephen Reid on 24th October 2019
Eroding of a nest egg? That sounds to me like losing money, which is not good.
But when I check my assessment every year, it usually jumps by several, or maybe many, thousands of dollars per year. My nest egg is growing! Are you suggesting the taxation erosion is more than your annual increase in property value? Also, I know that people in Campbell River pay WAY more property taxes than we do.
My property is a HUGE asset to me, and when I cannot afford to keep it any longer, I will be forced to sell it. I see that as the nature of real estate. Its not my birthright to own land, but it sure has made me worth a lot more money every year. I feel lucky for it. Nobody gave it to me, I had to fight for it. I see many people who are fighting for it but its out of reach, out of grasp. Hard working people too.
You worked from 1961 to 2008. Yet having re read your post several times, I believe you are saying that you cannot afford your property taxes, and you need to defer your property taxes to maintain your lifestyle. That sounds hard!
I want to know how many people are in this boat of being retired, owning a property on Cortes, (any other properties elsewhere?) presumably living on Cortes? and cannot afford the property taxes. In other words land rich but cash poor.

I really want to know how many landowners on Cortes truly cannot afford their property taxes!

different strokes...
Comment by Wendy Legare on 23rd October 2019

fyi- the first time the Hall Tax emerged proponents openly suggested deferring property taxes; also at public meetings the option was discussed as a viable option. The accumulated sums deferred must at some point be paid back as taxes when your place changes ownership.
Let's cut the personally directed derogatory criticisms, we don't know what life's circumstances will come our way.

Want to retire in a ghost town?
Comment by Romina on 22nd October 2019
Want to not fund community services so you can hold onto every cent? Why not make Cortes such a struggle to live here for young families and workers? There will be no one to drive your ambulance, provide home care, run a health clinic, work in stores, help the fire department or tend to your lawn or cut wood. We fortunate enough to have bought land when it was affordable can just sit on our nest eggs. We can let infrastructure fall so it's such an undesirable place to live that almost no one but retirees can make a life here. I don't know who will serve them but we can just forget about community; let everyone just sit around in their house, forget about markets, community dinners and dances and playschools and just count our coins while cultivating a ghost town. What quality of life! I am sure that will help the economy and increase the value of our homes. Look around at your support systems and think who and what supports them.
Things change
Comment by Blanca on 21st October 2019
It seems a distant comparative of time and country. While also leaving out the services we have where elders are not responsible to pay their way through assisted living and intensive care.
The chances are that my taxes will go toward services that you receive, while I may not benefit from the same services when I become an old crone (due to potencial draining as well as inflation and the economy and what have you). And still today, some of my taxes goes to families for the benefit of child care for middle class families, while I choose not to have children. It's part of the cost of the privilege we have to be a Canadian and, in this case, to live in a place where we have champions of programs and community, while we struggle to learn how to be in community as individuals.

You may not consider it an essential service - perspective drives such things anyway. And there we differ on perspective.

On another note, elder care on Cortes has recently been hit hard by the loss of funding (see CCHA newsletter) - consistent with the need of operational funding for many of our highly used programs. This is not a comparison, but if you are to champion elder care, there is a place where we are in need of champions that can and will have a direct impact on our elders.
... of course.
Comment by Tamias on 21st October 2019
I started composing a comment and then saw that Bob already captured what I was about to say. Though the community halls are not an essential service in the life-and-death sense, they add so much value to the experience of living on Cortes, or owning land on Cortes. If the land you own happens to be in Squirrel Cove, far from the two community halls, then I see how it might be frustrating to be required to support them.

One could, of course, question the validity of owning colonized land in the first place. Meh, I'm too busy right now to elaborate on that. Many blessings, everyone.
-- Tamias

Comment by Bob on 21st October 2019
Hi Rob,

I understand one will never have enough money when you retire, but I look at paying taxes for the halls and first responders ,not as a burden, but an opportunity. An opportunity to invest in ones community. This investment will make our island more resilient and a better place to live. This will make Cortes even more desirable and as a result your beautiful house and property should become even more valuable. More than off setting the small burden the taxes will inflict upon you.

I do not own property, but I am willing to pay the extra taxes if my landlord desires even though I will not benefit from the increase in property values that I have predicted. I'm more concerned about living in a community that cooperates and works for everyone.