“Many taxpaying business owners in B.C. don’t live in the same town as their business – meaning they don’t get a vote,” said John Winter, president and CEO of the B.C. Chamber of Commerce. “These businesses have no voice in any election or referendum process that will directly impact their business. This is ‘Taxation without representation’ and it’s time we fix it.”
Prior to 1993, B.C.’s businesses had the power to vote in municipal elections where the outcome would have a direct impact on their company.
The chamber claims that municipalities’ considerable influence under the Community Charter, combined with a lack of voting rights for business owners, leads to the development of significant inequities between business and residential property tax rates in the province.
“Business owners already shoulder a disproportionate proportion of the municipal tax burden,” Winter said. “But non-resident business owners are totally disenfranchised – and that’s an injustice B.C. needs to address.”
Winter goes on to say that there’s precedent for giving a vote to non-resident business owners. Currently, residential property tax payers have the right to vote in both the municipality where they reside as well as in another municipality where they own property as a non-resident owner.
The B.C. Chamber is the largest and most broadly-based business organization in the province. The chamber represents 36,000 businesses in a variety of different sizes, sectors and regions of the province.