Some business owners are ineligible to vote at city or town council elections because their principal residence is out of town. With support from various Chambers of Commerce a few of these people are now suggesting that because they pay municipal taxes and rates through their business it should qualify them for a voice at the polls during municipal election time.
The obvious solution to this problem? Move back to town, problem solved!
Of course, what they fail to mention is that while they enjoy their country lifestyle far from the maddening crowd, the taxes they save in a rural setting offsets much of what they pay in town for their business. Rural property assessments and tax rates represent a fraction of the burden placed on a comparable property in an urban setting.
Ultimately, it boils down to a personal choice based on evaluating all the pros and cons, recognizing that the right to vote municipally is surrendered by choosing to live outside the boundaries.
If we are going to decide who can vote according to who pays municipal taxes or not, doesn’t this establish a dangerous precedent? Is the corollary to this the withdrawal of voting rights to those within a municipality that don’t directly pay city taxes?
If we are going to advocate for all inclusive community participation in municipal affairs then shouldn’t we consider all citizens and not just a few malcontent business owners?
Perhaps a revision to the Municipal Act could establish something akin to townships within the Yukon.
A township is a district associated with a town or a city that does not necessarily involve expansion of boundaries or change the status quo for rural residents.
Those living within a defined area surrounding a town or city would be allowed to vote and run in municipal elections just as they do in other parts of Canada today. Residency and citizenship requirements would remain the same.
To the Chambers of Commerce advocating for absentee business owner voting privileges I would urge you to also consider the people, both in town and out, that support the businesses you represent and do try to be a little less self serving.