Sunday, September 2, 2012



Like a dead fish stinking up the dock, the idea floated out again in June about a special new tax on those rich SOBs who live along the 386 kilometres of the Trent Severn Waterway and enjoy themselves.
Of course the politicians are never really happy unless they are pickpocketing us.
Some MPs were said to be about to recommend around now to the federal government that waterside cottage owners be taxed extra - that is in addition to the extra taxes they already pay municipally because of their better locations on the water.
A few years ago I phoned a top waterway official and asking him about the persistent rumours that Trent-Severn docks were to be taxed. He said they had only looked at commercial docks and that had been shelved.
Then there was talk about licence fees for all boats kept on the Trent Severn.  And, for all I know, for the air that we breathe from the rivers and a foliage fee for the weeds.
I think any dumb MP who recommends this should be aware that I for one, and my neighbours around Burnt Point Bay south of Havelock, would expect something for more taxes.
 Like services.
I live at the end of a private road maintained by the cottagers. We run our own sewer and water infrastructure and many of us have no garbage collection, snow removal or anything else. There are general services such as policing, fire protection and hospitals, and of course we have the wonderful advantage of Big Brother bossing us on everything and generally charging us hefty permit fees.
Just try building anything bigger than a bird house and watch the bureaucrats descend.
Since my assessment is higher because I am on the water, a reasonable bureaucracy would leave well enough alone and take any necessary maintenance money for the waterway from the overcharging in municipal taxes. Have they not heard of user fees to cover the costs of the locks?
But, oh no, the Tories (I refuse to call them Conservatives because they are not conservative in their spending) are now sniffing around like a skunk at the outhouse for extra money.
Let's return to the benefits we would expect to get if we have to pay new cottage water taxes. And don't give me any crap about jurisdictions. I don't care whether it's a federal, provincial or municipal responsibility, I just want bureaucrats to ante up and improve the tiny bits of help we get now.
I would expect weed harvesters to be bought and operated along the great stretches  of the Trent-Severn that are now plagued with weeds. There would be no charge to cottagers because the growth of weeds is fed by the government failures in controlling the chemicals that are excreted into the water supply.
I would expect real patrols by the OPP who now flit through every two weeks and let the cottagers deal with all the speeding yachts who send waves of water over our docks and shores.
I would expect a return to fish hatcheries since the provincial government already collects more in fishing licence fees than it spends on fish management.
I would expect payment to be made to cottagers for the use of our rivers in the production of electricity. Or they could tell Ontario Hydro to lower cottage Hydro charges to reasonable sums if Hydro is going to continue to use public water
Governments have never reduced taxes, despite the promises, and are constantly searching for new and occasionally illegal taxes. (You want an example. Printed material, including religious books like the Bible and Koran, were free of taxes from before the invention of moveable type. Now they're taxed. It was considered improper and immoral for a government to levy a tax on a tax. It has become routine.)
Governments always pretend that new taxes and permit fees will be used for a stated purpose. For example, gasoline taxes were levied to pay for road construction and repair. Now they're just dumped into general revenue, and the taxes collected are more than the total spent on road construction and repair.
Fish and hunting permit fees were started to raise money for hatcheries, wardens and wildlife management. Now most of the money is dumped into general revenue and game wardens are as scarce as hatcheries. It is up to individuals and clubs to nurture the trophies that bring visitors and their dollars into the province so there are more people around to pay the taxes and fees.
Remember when it all began. Ottawa started a temporary income tax to pay for Canada's military costs in World War 1. But income tax has stayed along with every other tax that was started for a specific purpose and ended up generating revenue that the politicians could fritter away on their cockeyed schemes.
Let me warn Ottawa that if there is a new tax on the Trent Severn Waterway,  the MPs stupid enough to recommend it will be defeated and will have all the time in the world to cottage and fish and hunt and pay all of the hot new ideas in taxes and permit fees.
Any new monies would be wasted. Of that I am certain. The present situation is that the governments can't evenfigure out how to smooth out the fluctuations in water levels that can either have your dock flooded or your boat grounded. They can't even control any new menace that  comes along The latest is Water Soldier which can ruin a shoreline even as it cuts any kid that gets near it. And it's spreading like the flu in January.
Government are inept but cottagers aren't. We do more maintenance of the shores than they do. Why should we now be punished for their incompetence?
Many cottages started as mere shacks in the woods. Government ignored them until officials figured they could make some money even as they didn't bother to help them very much.
Today, many cottagers cost more than small houses in towns and cities, yet the small houses get the services that cottagers can only dream about.
And now there are politicians talking about going after one group of cottagers along a waterway, and if that works, Lake Simcoe will be next, and the Rideau, and Wasaga Beach etc.
There's an expression about letting sleeping dogs lie. Good advice. If the governments wish to poke this dog, it will turn out to be a wolf which will tear at them even as tax revolts and class action suits are considered. After all, why wouldn't we sue? Taxation without representation is undemocratic and improper. Surely it is also undemocratic and unfair to levy taxes and give nothing in exchange.
 The MPs are running a new version of a costly shell game where there are no services to be found under any of the shells.

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