Free Sauble parking for outsiders is a harmful, bad, reckless policy

Editor, OSST:

What really bugs me about the Sauble parking discussion is the false propaganda coming from Dale Robinson of the Sauble Beach Chamber of Commerce, and also from Councillors Jim Turner and Marilyn Bowman, among others.

Turner and Bowman, and I believe Close, Klages, and Kirkland claim that the cost to the residents (of free parking for outsiders) is very low. Turner and Robinson even claim that free parking for outsiders is good for the residential taxpayers because costs are low and the benefits outweigh the costs.

Their claims are all false, and they know it, or ought to know it.

Daily parking rate at Sauble has been $15 for four years. For those four years, average net revenue, that is gross revenues less costs, was $240,000. If parking is made free for outsiders, that $240,000 will have to be made up with extra taxes on all TSBP residents. It really is that simple.

That’s a $32 annual hit on the average TSBP taxpayer. That’s about a $60 hit on the average Sauble taxpayer. Many TSBP properties will pay an extra $200 a year. Some Sauble properties will pay an extra $220 a year. $220 a year so outsiders can park free!

And $240,000 is only part of the costs to residents. Costs like policing will go up. Some Sauble residents will be out as much as $300 annually just so outsiders can park for free.

And non-cash costs have to be added to that. Like the time spent by residents picking up the garbage that the outsiders throw on the beach, on the roads, and on the residents’ own properties. And another cost of the free parking for outsiders is the value of the loss of enjoyment of our properties and our beach.

For Sauble residents the real cost of free parking for outsiders I value at $350,000 per year cash and $100,000 per year worth of lost enjoyment of property.

Taxes have gone up in TSBP a whopping 45% in the last seven years.

Today on CFOS radio news there was a report from the Grey-Bruce Poverty Council saying that it costs $375 per month to feed a family of four.

Elsewhere it has been reported that more than 50% are below the low income cut-off, commonly known as the “poverty-line”.

Many in our TSBP community, already taxed to the hilt, are barely scraping by.

For Council members Turner, Bowman, Kirkland, Close and Klages to take another $350,000 out of the residents’ pockets for the exclusive benefit of outsiders and the chamber of commerce is nothing short of reckless, cruel, and irresponsible.

Councillor Turner is accomplished at creative accounting but has no education or equivalent training in finance. He should know that he doesn’t fool many residents, if any. The others should know that too.

Dale Robinson’s chamber of commerce propaganda is even more dishonest.

She gathered names on a petition. The people who signed were mostly outsiders and chamber members, not residents, so the results are invalid right from the start.

The proper question for residents would have been: Which would you prefer – beach maintenance paid by extra taxes on all TSBP residents or paid by a $15 parking fees for non-residents? The question asked was only whether people, mostly non-residents, supported free parking.

Of course the outsiders support free parking for themselves!

Contrary to Chamber President Dale Robinson, free parking for outsiders is not at all popular with the TSBP residents. Just check out all the e-mails and letters and calls coming into town hall from the residential taxpayers. The residents who write in clearly understand the costs to taxpayers of free parking to outsiders, and overwhelmingly oppose free parking for outsiders.

Council’s role is to develop and implement good policy. Even if the free-parking-for-outsiders policy were popular with the residents (which it isn’t) it would still be bad policy, and so should not be implemented.

The whole chamber “petition” was bogus.

Free parking for outsiders will cost the residents at least $250,000, and probably much more, with no benefits. It is absolutely false for Robinson (and Turner and maybe others) to say that free parking for outsiders is good for the residents.

Several of the free-parking-for-outsiders gang have had the audacity to say that taking $240,000 to $350,000 out of the pockets of TSBP taxpayers helps the economy. That’s absurd. Taking $240,000 to $350,000 out of the residents’ pockets leaves them with $240,000 to $350,000 less to spend, and that hurts the economy. Big time.

Here’s what I find most astounding about the Chamber of Commerce stance.

Many of the chamber members’ customers are outsiders. But not all. Many customers are local.

Dale Robinson and the Chamber support a policy (free parking for outsiders) that is very harmful to the residents, and is reckless, and is irresponsible, and have the gall to insult the residents by telling them that they will actually benefit from giving outsiders free parking.

You may not understand it yet, because you are not smart business owners like us, but the free parking for outsiders is for your own good, and someday, when the least dumb of your dumb lot catch on, you will thank us. (Chamber propaganda in my words).

(Which is about what the chamber said in support of the 100 million dollar Sauble Sewers proposal in 2010:

Trust us. This is for your own good. The benefits far outweigh the costs. And the $50,000 up front sewers cost and $600 annual costs are “very affordable”. When the least dumb of your dumb lot catch on, you will thank us. Oh by the way, seasonal residents should not run for office or participate in the public policy process. Leave all that to the permanent residents who actually have a stake in the community. (Their propaganda – in my words.))

What I find astounding is that the chamber doesn’t seem to understand or doesn’t seem to care that some of their local customers might just want to reward the members of the Sauble chamber for their “benevolence”.

I for one will so reward them. I am sick and tired of the residents paying almost all the bills and the chamber reaping the benefits.

Some of the propagandist council members say that they will get the $240,000 plus from reserves, and so there is no tax implication. This is wrong. More creative accounting. That $240,000 reserve belongs to the residents. If it is available for beach maintenance then it is surplus and should be returned to the taxpayers. Not returning the surplus reserve is exactly the same as taxing the residents the extra $240,000. New taxes or from reserves, it is still an increased $240,000 plus annual burden on the beleaguered taxpayers.

Speaking of rewarding people for their stances, I encourage all TSBP residents to identify any candidates in the October 27, 2014 election who supports or supported the disastrous policy of free parking for outsiders, and reward them with a resounding “get lost”.

Watch for Close, Turner, Bowman, Kirkland, and Klages to be in that screw-the-residents camp.

It is not too late to change council’s harmful policy.

Express your concerns to “TSBP council” at sbpen@bmts.com

If you want your comments to be included on the town’s website, you must include words like “permission granted to post to town website”.

To read what others have posted, go here:

https://southbrucepeninsula.civicweb.net/Documents/DocumentList.aspx?ID=56972

(Only one of the several letters that I submitted was posted. The others were censored as “defamatory”, even though they were not.)

Craig Gammie
Town of South Bruce Peninsula

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