We have to give credit to the City of Edmonton: they sure are experts in drawing attention away from the huge tax increases over the past decade.
The tactics being used are actually a form of crowd manipulation, whereby psychological techniques are used to influence a large group of people.
For example, in a recent report titled “What We Are Hearing“, the City claims to have roughly 4,000 individual records collected from residents and stakeholders over the past two years.
The report is based on what the City anticipates Edmonton will look like in 2050. Incorporating the customary rhetoric you would expect to find in any plan projecting 30 years into the future, there are generic goals like having a healthy city, urban places, regional prosperity and climate resilience. Not to stop with just cliched goals, there’s also the added principal of being “connected.”
An outcome of this report, according to the City, are six guiding principals (placed conveniently in first person narrative):
I want to BELONG and contribute
I want to LIVE in a place that feels like home
I want opportunities to THRIVE
I want ACCESS within my city
I want to PRESERVE what matters most
I want to be able to CREATE and innovate
Notwithstanding the fact that these goals and principals could be used to describe virtually any city in the world, what we find noticeably absent in the entire report is any mention of having a financially responsible city. There is no mention of having a city with a manageable debt, nor did anyone bring up they would like to see a city in which property taxes were not considerably higher than surrounding municipalities. Of the 4,000 records they had on file, it appears not one person suggested we control spending. According to the report, there isn’t concern about residents and businesses in 2050 being saddled with an even more untenable tax situation. There isn’t a single mention of a small business advocating to make Edmonton more competitive. Nor any comments from the seniors and residents on fixed income that can no longer afford the tax increases which greatly exceed inflation. Perhaps a 7th guiding principal to the effect of I want Council to be FINANCIALLY RESPONSIBLE just didn’t have a nice ring to it.
To be fair, municipal spending and property taxes are not captivating topics. In general, people are far more interested in talking about seemingly innocuous topics, such as whether or not Milan Lucic should have received a fine last week for his attack on Mathieu Joseph. And while we are fully aware that sports are considerably more entertaining than municipal politics, the only person that suffers from the corresponding $10,000 fine that Lucic ultimately received was Lucic himself. However, when they City of Edmonton has operating spending increase over 100% in 10 years it’s everybody in Edmonton that suffer from it.
So we ask what property taxes will look like in 2050 as a rhetorical question because the City is not providing any direction whatsoever. Instead, it seems they are trying to distract Edmontonians with smoke and mirrors, trying to make us feel good about spending money instead of working to instil a confidence in us that they’re managing it properly in the first place.
So if you think property taxes should be a bigger issue, both for the upcoming 4 year budget cycle and the decades leading up to 2050, send your councillor a note and let them know:
Chad GriffithsPartner, SIOR, CCIM
Chad is a partner with NAI Commercial Real Estate and focuses on the Greater Edmonton area. Chad entered the industry in 2004 and has completed over 400 commercial transactions with clients ranging from small, local companies to large institutional owners. Chad has been a top 15 producer with NAI Canada-wide since 2013.
Ryan BrownPartner, BCom, SIOR
Ryan is a partner with NAI Commercial Real Estate in Edmonton and is currently ranked nationally as one of NAI's top advisors. Having executed in excess of $100 Million worth of sales transactions and over 2 Million square feet of lease transactions, Ryan has developed a firm understanding of asset evaluation and an aptitude for building design, functionality, and long-term practicality.
Darcie is a licensed Commercial Real Estate Agent in the Province of Alberta with a focus on the Edmonton market and its surrounding areas. Darcie accomplishes custom solutions for her clients through her personable nature and results driven attitude. Darcie can help if you are looking to invest in commercial real estate or are looking for representation for a sale or lease transactions.
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