Monday, September 26, 2022

Five Days of Scrap the Tax FOI excerpts sets stage for door to door push for signatures in Prince Rupert

A steady drum beat of message making through the last week culled from a Freedom of Information Request revealed by the proponents of the Scrap the Tax Petition came to an end on Friday.

The daily snippets of the document having been used as the main thrust for the latest element of the ongoing campaign to gain signatures for the local initiative.

The proponents of the current petition used their Friday information release for another selected passage from the Report; the latest of five such excepts that started last Monday coming along with the introduction of the name of Peter Adams, who is noted as the Author of the 2019 financial review which they made newsworthy all last week.

The latest update from the petition organizers was one that was also relayed by Mayor Lee Brain, making for the fourteenth social media message on the topic forwarded through the Mayor's Facebook pulpit since September 9th.

The frequent mentions for the FOI request in the last week, has developed a bit of a narrative towards how the awareness of the report is a new discovery of some sorts.  

However the actual report launch was reported fairly extensively back in 2019 when it was introduced by the Provincial government.

That announcement of the review of the Port Cap issue was of some significance in 2019, which as we noted at the time, was a topic that should have been of some interest for the Mayor and Council members.  

So it's somewhat curious as to how the Mayor framed the sudden revelation theme last week. 

"It turns out that the Province commissioned an independent expert to study the Port Tax Caps in 2019 - but has yet to take action on the findings" -- Mayor Lee Brain through Facebook on September 23

That might give some the impression that the Mayor was unaware of the study, though as noted previous it does appear to have been well recorded. 

As one might say, it was in all the newspapers, or at least most of them.

That would mean that, Mayor Brain and the current Council membership did have three years to appeal to the Province to release the results as soon as possible, though there has been little mention of the Report over that period of time as part of any Regular Open City Council Discussions.

As it turns out ... Fortunately it would seem for petition organizers ... the awareness of the report came up at just the right moment for the Scrap the Tax Petition to offer up the "Breaking news" and "Bombshell findings" through the five days of message making.

And while as we have been often told in recent days,  it may not be a Council led initiative ... the Mayor has become the loudest and most effective cheerleader for the cause that the project could ever find.

The short bio provided on Friday on the Petition Social Media stream offers up an impressive CV For Mr. Adams, who if one does a Google search pops up in a number of civic related report projects through the last decade or so.

"The report was authored by Peter Adams, an economist with a Master's degree from the London School of Economics. Since 1986, he has completed more than 250 consulting assignments for the Province, the Union of BC Municipalities, property taxpayers and local governments. Prior to consulting, Mr. Adams held a number of senior positions with the Province of BC, including Director of the Tax and Fiscal Policy Branch of the Ministry of Finance. "-- From Scrap the Tax message from September 23

His body of work does appear to have been highlighted for some recognition by many Municipal governments and the UBCM during those years as well. 

And clearly, the Report of note in this current instance would seem to be something that residents may want to have a look at, if only to gain a balanced view of his work, beyond the recent pull quotes from petition advocates gleaned from the FOI request.

That will only come with a chance to review the document in its full context.

As well, what would be most helpful to the current debate, would be to hear what the Provincial response to it may have been; as well as to whether the Prince Rupert Port Authority had any comments to provide towards the Report's conclusions.

The proponents of the petition may very well be spot on with all of their observations and rhetoric since the September 9th launch. Though without the benefit of access to the report that they are now basing their program of civic engagement on, the need for some balance on the topic and a chance to review all the facts is something to consider to this point.

And as this campaign has moved forward there seems to be a fair bit of information missing for a truly informed decision at the moment. 

Something residents may want to keep in the back of their minds as the cacophony of political message making continues on into another week.

It's the kind of important fact of it all,  that could make for a conversation starter on your porch as the petition push continues with its advance with a door to door campaign set for October 2nd.

For some of the past notes on the petition issue see our Civic Taxation and Fees Archive which has served as the archive of notes since the launch earlier this month.


  1. Mr Adams was the commissioner who worked under Dr Enid Slack on the 2009 Port Metro Vancouver study that cited inequities in the amount of the provincial grant to port municipalities as the problem, not the tax caps. That report is available in full online. Hopefully the petition organizers and the outgoing mayor will see fit to disclose Mr Adams' report that they have been selectively quoting from and then embellishing with hyperbole.

    1. this commenter has oddly specific knowledge of this issue. PRPA employee? highly likely.

    2. Well could be a Port employee I suppose, or just as likely someone in the community who does research ... some folks do like to know all the details of things.


  2. This is all an attempt to drive the election items for discussion. Takes away from incompetence that has taken place in the last 7 1/2 years.

  3. My vote goes to the incumbent that admits they did not move quickly enough to diversify the tax base and minimize the tax impact on residences.
    Watson Island should be at least 80% leased.
    Small business growth is forecasted to grow at x% per year which will mean y% to city coffers.
    Every budget and annual presentation should have this information, not an excuse slide about property valuations.

  4. a bit rich for the NCR to call for balance on this topic when:

    why no scrutiny of why the prpa put out demonstrably false and misleading statements about the tax caps?

    why no questioning that the prpa only sent a statement to this blog instead of actual media? or using their own social media platforms?

    where's the province in all this?

    where's the MLA in all this?

    1. Well lets 'fact check' you a sec here as the initiative proponents would say.

      I asked for comment from the Port on the Scrap the Tax petition at the start of the campaign, which they provided, you can interpret their comments as you wish.

      But perhaps address your question to the rest of the "actual media" as to why they never followed up with them on the topic.

      I have asked the very where question more than a few times as to where the Province is, as well as where the MLA is on the topic and yet no answers have been delivered.

      And again as I pointed out from the first article, the simple way to provide a full and correct overview for the public to consider towards the petition is to have all the information available ... which seemingly is not to be shared to this point.

      Personally I like to know all the facts before I start joining movements ...

      Thanks for reading though ...


  5. Eight years of it is always someone else's fault.
    Never admit a misstep. If you make one move on to something else.
    Sidewalks when he got in turned into a bust never completed. Move on to Watson Island another bust that they will not provide numbers for. Move onto waterfront and CN Station another bust. Move onto port taxation issue. Just keep moving and screaming injustice.

  6. The city hate blog and his 2 really mad port apologist commenters. Now watch everyone praise current mayor and council tonight at debate and move on.

    1. Diversity of opinion should always be respected.

  7. The council did not participate in the 2019 review. The mayor has no mandate from the current council and does not appear to have ever asked for one. Instead he promotes a citizens petition that bypasses the council other than as individuals and also bypasses cabinet ministers by appealing directly to the legislature. Basically, the mayor has gone rogue on this issue. He has received a lot of praise during his two terms, especially through social media, and no doubt some of it deserved. His handling of this issue though is bizarre. The Emperor has no clothes.

    1. 1000 + other people disagree with you apparently

    2. I think that a lot of support for the petition arises from exasperation that the mayor and council sat on the port tax issue for years, failed to lobby the province effectively or even take an official position, and then raised property taxes. The mayor should not be given credit for the work of the anonymous organizers of the petition. The organizers have done an impressive job, but it should not have had to come to this. The petition reflects a failure by local government.