It is All About Fairness – No Freeloaders!

I cannot stay silent any longer on this subject because I am sick and tired of listening to business people complain about how they are unduly singled out with higher taxes and other parasitic encumbrances to their bottom-line, and that they should be given tax breaks. In traditional fashion, you have the Right-wing saying that all businesses must be taxed in order to stay competitive, while on the Left-wing side, they say businesses must pay more in taxes because they make the lion’s share of the profits. Oh Boo-Hoo. I am tired of everyone from property owners to business people saying that everyone else except them should shoulder the taxes burden. I just heard a small business owner say that all taxes should be dumped on the consumer and property owners while they focus on enjoying their profits and employing more works. Oh-no, I say pooh to that, everyone pays their share—period, especially those who make huge profits in my city!

Ok, we have this issue of gentrification, and it is prevalent in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia. Gentrification is where you have a depressed area, become affluent and prosperous as a higher class of the socioeconomic population moves in as their boundary spreads outwards. When you have an area where everyone wants to live, that area goes through a cycle of inflation as property prices and costs rise. So too for businesses, as they enjoy rise in the boon of consumers. Nothing is free, as all must pay to enjoy the benefits of this. It boils down to choice. People move to the cities, like Vancouver, because they want to enjoy its weather climate, and the bounty of employment. Businesses do this along the same lines of reasoning too. But sooner or later, inflation creeps in, and so too do taxes. Remember, you have a choice to stay or leave—simple.

The majority of Canadian’s taxes are paid through taxing their income. This concept of paying taxes on the amount of money you make, goes back to the Second World War in Canada, and is one that many have no choice in the matter. You earn a pay cheque, you employer is obligated, in most cases, to collect that money on behalf of the Government. But the bulk of Income Tax goes to both the Federal and Provincial Governments, leaving the Municipalities left to eke out their sources of revue in other ways. So municipalities share the proceeds on mostly businesses and property taxes that they tax directly. I am probably over simplifying the tax laws here, as there are hundreds of different forms of taxation in Canada, but this is a thumbnail sketch of where and who gets what. So as a community grows, in its population and services, so too does its operational costs and development.

The idea of fairness is simple: all of us, who choose to work and live in an area that is going through gentrification, must pay their fair share, no matter who you are. If you are a home owner, then yes, you pay your taxes. As businesses who want to set up in this area as well, they must pay their fair share in taxes too, as they enjoy the prosperity and volume of consumers moving through their doors. Usually it’s the business owner who argues that the market economy should run the world; then let it be so, as the market place becomes over saturated, and the population shifts, then businesses should make a choice. If they have to raise their prices for their wares, then so be it, but to stay competitive by paying less in taxes is not fair—then you need to adjust your profits.

Bottom line, everyone pays their fair share in taxes. No one should be exempt, or reduced, from their fair share in taxes within the population. If you come here to make a profit, then you come here to pay your taxes to enjoy all the benefits that come with living here.

Roundabouts and Terrace, BC

OK, we have all heard the news by now about the main highway from Smithers, and Kitimat, BC, going into Terrace, being changed from a four-way stop to a roundabout. And we all seem to have an opinion on this. So I did an unscientific pole at my work, just to see what everyone there felt about it. The comments were both interesting and entertaining, and full of myths and lore, of what will happen once the roundabout is in operation. But first, please have a look at the link from the British Columbia’s Government website, before I move on in this post.

Highway 16 and 37 Intersection (BC GOV CA, as of December 28, 2017)

So, the number one reason for not having a roundabout in Terrace, BC, is: No one will know how to use it, and there will be accidents galore as everyone tries to figure it out.

Number two: People from out of town will never figure it out.

And three: It will be a complete disaster during rush hour, as driver’s compete with the transport trucks motoring through the intersection.

When I first heard about the idea of replacing the intersection with a roundabout, I was a bit in awe. Having come from the Lower Mainland of British Columbia, I have driven over a few roundabouts in my time. The most frequent roundabout I used was at McCallum Road and Highway 1 in Abbotsford, BC. To see this roundabout, please go to the BC Highway WEB-CAM link.  I was actually quite amazed at well it worked. When I seen it for the first time, I had no troubles navigating over it, as long as I knew which lane to be in. The marking on the road were quite clear about that. So, the one  about to be built in Terrace, should be the same.

The BC Government made this nice animation about how the traffic should flow while using the roundabout versus the existing four-way stop we have now.

Next is a propaganda video about the myths of roundabouts, and why they are better than four-way stops.

Anyway, my personal thoughts about having this intersection changed is a positive one. I see it as something that is badly needed, and was happy to hear that it will be built, starting in spring of 2019. I think this will be a boon for any highway traveller going through Terrace, BC.

In Quiet Reflection

Today is Remembrance Day here across Canada. This is the day set aside to remember those who served in wars and conflicts, and those who are now veterans defending our values and freedoms, from today, to long ago. Sadly, I am not feeling that well, so I stayed at home. Mainly it was the weather that is keeping me inside today. So I watched the ceremonies on line while nursing a mild cold, while the snow fall rages outside. The temperature is right at the freezing mark, and a storm is moving in, not a good day for me to watch the parade. 

The above shot was taken from my front door at 11:15am, shooting with my Sony A77,  across Highway 16, with a 300mm telephoto lens. You can easily see snow streaking across the lens as I stepped the aperture down to F11 to get this effect. A long with the snow, is the wind, making for a good day to stay inside and do inside kind of things.

For those who have read my blog over the years will notice that I am not using an image of a poppy in this year’s post. This is sort of a protest, but more in respecting the Royal Canadian Legion, who have a Copy-Write on the Poppy. I do not want to go through the hassles of litigation with them, so I will forgo the Poppy from here on in. I will try to find new symbols of Remembrance Day that are Royalty Free, and free from litigation.

Right now I have a warm cup tea in hand, and Cream of Mushroom Soup simmering away on the stove. It is sort of that nice comforting feeling on a early winter’s day here on the North Coast of British Columbia, as I type this out. The smells and warmth inside, while the cold and white of the snow is outside. Perhaps a nap is on order?

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow! 🙂

 

Questions, Questions, and Not One Peep Back.

Dealing with “telemarketers” is one thing, you can hang up on them, but dealing with customer service people, well, that is entirely a different matter altogether. My quest was to somehow lower my ballooning rate per month with my cable/internet/phone provider. For lack of a better word, I am pissed at how much this monthly bill has shot up in the last year. So, my goal today was to lower it, even it means cutting the cord. For now the cord is still intact, but my patients is very thin, and my time with this service provider is nearing its end. It was my exchange of Q & As with the person on other end of the phone call that made me rethink my strategy of dealing with this business going forward.

The circular argument was three-fold. I asked for add-ons to be cut, and more specific, my entire “bundle” to be lowered to the lowest “pack” they had listed on their website. The counter argument was that none of the bundles could be broken, or reactivated unless I was a new customer. My final argument was to cut the cord completely, then re-enlist with the preferred services that I wanted at a later date. The answer was…, yes, but…, no.

We went over this thought experiment for nearly thirty minutes before I had to give up.

Then I brought up the point that what I saw on their website through my VPN was slightly different from when I was seeing it through my local I.P. Address. There was a pause. Silence; not a peep from her. I said “hello” a few times, and waited until she said something. After a minute, she asked me what was different on website, and then spewed off that use of a VPN maybe a violation of my user agreement. I laughed. I said that viewing the website through my VPN, I get to see all the bundles in their entirety, WITH PRICES, where as viewing it locally, I only see the upgrade bundles being offered. The mic drops. I added that “this is a very sad way of marketing and dealing with your customers.” She insisted that this was not the case. My B.S. meter’s needle just broke off from being buried in the red so far.

The cord will be cut very soon!

Beware the Scammer

It was a couple a weeks ago now, as I was nonchalantly looking at the rental market up in Northern British Columbia, that I came across an ad that seemed to good to be true. I was delighted when I got a response almost within hours of my query to the ad. I was inspired, and felt hopeful glee, when I was told that this particular home was available, and that I was the only one who has responded. However, in the end, once it was evident that this was a scammer hard at work, trying to dupe me, I whisked away the happy thoughts and moved on.

So, yes, scammers are everywhere, and sadly, not even our law enforcement in British Columbia, the RCMP, can do much about it. It is buyer beware, and due diligence that must be practice when combing the ads of both printed and on-line media. Scammers are everywhere, and they have no moral values; they are human parasites in today’s world.

What was obvious at first for me was how awesome the ad was. It was too good to be true. The price for the dwelling was, unreal, to say the least. So moving forward, looking at the price, and how it was a deal, was the first sign of the scam. In a market that is flush with little competition, where prices were outrageous, seeing a deal that was unbelievably fifty precent below market value, was a dead giveaway. But I kept going with the email exchanges anyway, hoping that this could be the real deal, but doubting it more and more as time went on. Added to this, all utilities were included, even cable and Internet. Yes, he was going to pay for my Internet! My B.S. meter/detector was pointing off the scale now.

The second warning sign came in the form of how fast the acceptance was, and the rush to move to the actual rental agreement form. I should also point out that the replies I received were typed in very poor English, almost to the point that this person was using a spell-checker, while doing “cut and paste” chunks of phrases from other emails. The poor grammar, and ward choice, coupled with flawless paragraphs in the same email proved that this scammer was luring several victims at once. Yes, I had one section where he was speaking to me as a female. Not to mention how basic the rental agreement was, and how little information I had to give, I laughed when he added that to the text of  the email–no attachment or signature in return. It was obvious that all I needed was a pulse, to prove that I was alive, and money, to give to the scammer.

Third, was when I asked to see the place first before I would give out any money for the damage deposit. Now this is where things got murky. In British Columbia, the laws are different from other jurisdictions about what a land lord can, or cannot, ask for as far as money, information and types of contracts rental agreements. To pay for “site unseen” is, well, not the proper way of doing business here in Canada. So when I asked to have the address of the dwelling before I would consider paying with any money, the answer was no: “pay first, then you get the keys” was the reply. The exchange was to priceless. First was the Trans Union Money address in the Untied States, and then the promise of the keys and receipts delivered to me by Fedex. Then was a possible visit, once I was moved in, to see how I would enjoy my new home.

I stopped my conversation with David, the scammer. He never bothered to continue as well. It all stopped as it began. However, I could imagine him waiting for his next prey, another unsuspecting person searching for a place to live here in British Columbia with his deceptive ad.  All I could do was hope that his ad be taken down after my complaint and rid the net of this parasite for about thirty seconds.

Please use your head when shopping on-line, or from printed media, especially about renting. If it seems to good to be true, than it will be a scammer hard at work ready to take your money. Do your research, and please report these ads to the appropriate authorities once you have determined them to be scammers.

The Growing Homeless Problem

Each day, as I drive to work, I see them, the homeless. In the field, along 64th Avenue, as I drive over the overpass above the railway tracks off from Glover Road in Langley, Township, huddled among the low bushes are tarps and sheets of plastic used as tents. Strewn along the bushes and tents are shopping buggies and bicycles, some with baby trailers attached, and most are adorned with boxes and makeshift saddle bags designed for hauling heavy items and personal belongings. Sometimes I see them, but mostly I just see the small tent community in groups on the vacant field.

During the work week I see the RCMP, their cars parked along the road, officers with gloves on, walking or huddled in the middle of this field. Near their cars, sits a pile of plastic and a circle of shopping carts, just thrown into a large heap waiting for pick-up to the landfill. But more often that not, the tent community returns. Each morning, its members pack up and start their day, leaving only a small group of tents behind. Those are the tents that get taken down, and their occupants taken away.

It is hard to count their numbers. If I go by the rule that there is one occupant to one tent, then I would say there are at least twenty people living there. Then the question I ask, is twenty too many? Are there more? Are they the same people returning each day.

The vacant land is up for sale. It is prime real estate for commercial use. Like all land development around here in Langley, the market is hot, and options for cheap housing are almost non-existent. Affordably and housing are heard most often now by special interest groups, and some say we have reached a crises point. Government is hard to pin down as to how much help they are willing to offer the homeless. Perhaps if there are homeless people sleeping on this vacant land, then Government has failed?

Regardless, the homeless are there, and they are not going to go away. If the RCMP do keep them out, then it seems to me that the homeless will simply find another vacant field to stay the night in.

Anyway, that is what I see every day I drive to my work.

Caught One, Rats! (Warning-Gross Image)

Well, they say a picture is worth a thousand words, perhaps along with shock value, this image (below) speaks volumes to my plight. If you have been following my weblog, I have been battling with these vermin for the last four or five months now. They have cost me, in the pocketbook, a sum of around $1800.00 now, by replacing the damage they have caused. Chewed wires, holes in plastic containers and isolation, these rats have been nothing but trouble to both my home and vehicle. So I took action, and I am getting results!

Let us look at the above photo for a moment. This is the first rat caught while on the motor. I check my engine almost every day now. You can see the socks places under the wires. Those socks are filled with Mothballs, and since I have been placing them in the engine compartment, I have not had one wire chewed since.

Besides the Mothballs, I have been laying poison near my vehicle too. I bought some Rat-A-Way pellets, which did wonders on the first couple of days I set the traps. The first twenty-four hours three rat bodies were found underneath my Pathfinder, and the following day, four mice and one rat. Since then, the bait had been nibbled at, but no more bodies near my vehicle. Though, near my front door steps, I caught three more rats along with six mice in the last month.

But my main concern has been my vehicle. I now have proof that the Mothball method works!

To all those deniers and self-proclaimed rat experts (you know who you are) look-at-the-image. And “no,” I did not place the rat there and staged the whole photo–that is just gross!

Why Having No Neighbours is So Nice

Listening to my ex-neighbour who moved to another neighbourhood, telling me about his new problems, makes me appreciate the peace and quiet of my little corner of the universe. I could not live in a trailer park, or condo, or any other place that has people crammed so close together. When I thought about his tails of the weird and wacky people that have moved close to him, I realized that half of his trouble were his alone: he wants his privacy, yet craves the social interactions at the same time.

Sure, having people around is human. We humans like to live in colonies, families, and sometimes in metropolitan centres and cities. I even heard this called “human nature” while taking my undergrad classes university. Ultimately, we take on a mate, and raise children, and build our own families. In turn, we live close to populated areas for jobs, schools and stores, which give us securities.  We in our homes, towns and cities, governments to give us Rule of Law and build roads, schools and keep us safe. Some how, in this human utopia, chaos can ensue.

For my friend, in his trailer park, the mix was spoilt over time. Drug users, which are common among low income sites, were part of his problem as they moved in, but also tenants who wanted the joy and happiness that they claimed of their properties, also interfered with his peace and enjoyment. Then there were the whores and prostitutes that occupied the park as well; many are also drug users, and bring their own troubles. The neighbourhood is now labelled as a haven for lawlessness. Law enforcement even fears venturing into the area, and unless they have to, it is with body armour.

As I look across the farm fields and forests from my front door, I am happy. I live where many would not choose to. My neighbours are far enough from me that I like them. I can leave my windows open, and car unlocked and barbecue out on my patio without a chain. Good ridden to the trailer park trash; my friend, I feel for you–honest.

Fort Langley’s Little Bumpy Problem

What can I say, Fort Langley has a parking problem. This post is more of a rant, than a piece on constructive criticism. I offer no solution and point my finger at no one, only offering a few bits of observations from the twenty plus years I have lived here.

Have you driven down Glover Road, going through Fort Langley lately? It is not a pretty sight. The road, for about four blocks, is like driving on one great big—never ending—endless series of speed bumps. In fact, I think my exhaust system on my vehicle is ready to fall off because of it.

This is stupid. It has been over half a year now since the construction of underground power lines were installed (which by the way, I think was a complete waist of time and money, and I am glad I don’t live there any more to pay those taxes). Next to parking, this is my biggest gripe about the village.

I still have to drive through twice a day, as I go to and from work. It is by far the shortest route for me. Anyway, that is my rant for today. Hurry up and fix the damn road! Grrrrrrr

What, No Census Form in the Mail!

I have been so busy over the last week that I have had no time to check my mail box until today. I was sad to see it full of other junk other than my Census Canada envelope from Statistic Canada. After hearing all the hype about it been online, and how super fast it was to fill out, I was eager to jump the bandwagon and do mine. Right now I am bumbed out, and on the phone; yes, on hold–waiting for the next available agent at Statistics Canada, hoping to help me get it, making me a happy camper.

OK, while I am still holding on the phone, here is where I got the information to contact them, regarding not getting a Census Form in the mail. You can get the link here: Contact Us. Get your coffee and snacks, and find some place comfy to sit becuase it will take a while to talk to someone there as I am sure there are an avalanche of callers around this time-all asking the same questions as me, and needing other help with Census Forms issues.

16 minutes pass…

Yay – Success – I got through! Good news, and bad. It appears that may area, even though it is in the Metro Vancouver area, is considered rural. So, according to the nice lady on the phone at Statistics Canada, I may have someone knocking on my door sometime between now and May 10, 2016, giving me my Census information.

Why not just mail it? If they can send it to households in town, why not do the same for farms and rural homes as well. I think my address has been here longer than Fort Langley was a town.

Oh well, now I wait for the Census people to arrive knocking at my door.