Chelsea taxpayers are fuming at the National Capital Commission for its brazen tax dodge — and rightly so. Anybody who has driven the deteriorating roads pummelled daily by city traffic to Gatineau Park parking lots knows that Chelsea – forced to pay the resulting huge repair bills – has been on the losing end of the stick for years.
The fact that the NCC is choosing to drag its feet, even after the dispute advisory panel’s recommendation to pay up, and instead “study” the situation (read: buy more time to avoid paying) just adds insult to injury. The previous CEO of the NCC said it would respect the panel’s decision — so there’s no excuse for this backtracking.
Mayor Caryl Green said Chelsea is prepared to take the fight to the next step, federal court, if forced — and kudos to Chelsea for standing up for its taxpayers.
But letting the lawyers fight it out in court is a dry affair, not to mention an expensive one.
Why should outsiders have all the fun? Maybe there’s a way Chelsea residents can get in on the action and wage a small rebellion of their own.
Even before this tax dispute, it seemed unfair that Chelsea (and La Pêche and Pontiac) residents don’t get some kind of break when it comes to using the NCC services — after all, we bear the brunt of all those cars creating traffic jams and crater-like potholes. If the NCC continues its foot dragging until next fall, Chelseaites could launch their own tit-for-tat war by refusing to pay the NCC for their annual cross-country ski passes. As a life-long Hills resident and ski enthusiast, I have some confidence in stating that sneaking onto the trails without paying from time to time is considered by many an unofficial right of the long-time local. Run the numbers — making that small rebellion official may pack the economic punch to change the NCC’s mind.
The NCC owes Chelsea $590,000. The NCC sold just over 16,000 ski, snowshoe and fatbike passes this year — up by 43 per cent over the previous season. Cross-country ski passes (the most popular) run at $200 each. Surely Chelsea residents make up 18 per cent of those season pass holders. If they all refuse to pay next year, that would almost make up the $590,000 the NCC owes Chelsea. That $590,000 breaks down to about $165 per Chelsea taxpayer, so only those who actually ski the NCC trails would essentially get their money back, but at least the rest of the taxpayers could enjoy the smug satisfaction of having stuck it to the NCC’s bottom line. (For those who want instruction on how to enter the park without paying, there is a course entitled, “Nonviolent Communication for Subversive Skiers and Snowshoers” at the Meredith Centre April 1.)
All kidding aside, the writing is on the wall: there is no reason for the NCC to further “study” the issue. It’s time to pay up.