Thursday, March 15, 2007

Our Vote Is Being Devalued

We are used to our money losing 2%-3% per year due to inflation and prices and salaries going up by an equal amount. The result is of course that as everything rises 2%-3% annually, everything seems to take the same relative chunk out of our paychecks and we may be no better or worse off.

Things like houses of course, we hope go up in value. Their value depends upon the desirability of the location. Real estate experts say the prime determinant of house prices is location, location, location.

So what if the desirability of your city as a place to live goes down. Oshawa still has the lowest priced housing in the GTA and that is a measure of desirability. Our housing prices are still depressed because of the poor reputation Oshawa developed under our General Vote days prior to 1985 when little happened here and we have a hard time living that down. And don't put our reputation down to the auto industry here...just witness Oakville!

As a result of Oshawa's reputation, builders were reluctant to develop here because there were bigger profit margins to be made elsewhere where housing was more expensive. Thus Oshawa went through a period when the only housing we could attract was lower end housing…town house complexes, co-ops, subsidized housing, etc. That has changed over the last 10 years as Oshawa started to attract significant inventories of high end housing. This affects all of our property values in Oshawa by pushing prices up. Our property values thus increase.

This is due in large part because Oshawa has been able to develop its infrastructure like libraries and recreation complexes throughout the city. The desirability of the community has also been able to attract "high-end" jobs as new organizations like UOIT, medical clinics, hospital expansions, etc. as population growth pushes the need.

With a return to the General Vote, we may return to the sleepy-eyed bad rep place Oshawa was and is just now trying to live down.

However, a very serious kind of depreciation is going to occur immediately with the general vote. Candidates in ward voting are requiring 3000-3500 votes to win and so the “power” or “value” of your vote is 1/3000 of a politician. You may argue they are not worth that much and with some of the decisions they are making, I wholeheartedly agree. However the “value” of your vote will decrease significantly with the general vote. Under the general vote, successful candidates will require perhaps 25000 votes…so your vote gets devalued in one fell swoop from 1/3000 to 1/25000 in determining our political leadership in Oshawa. For those who argue they’d like a chance to vote for all, the general vote gives them a voting instrument having insignificant value in determining politicians.

This is extreme devaluation of the value of your vote and so you as an individual will have insignificantly minute influence in determining election outcomes.

If the same devaluation of your $250,000 house took place, it would have a value of $31,250. Could you stand this loss? Why then should you tolerate just as significant a loss to your democratic right to determine who governs this city?

If we do get the general vote, your property values will go down over time just as they did in the past. Don’t let it happen Oshawa.

Write the Mayor and Council and tell them you won’t stand for a change to the general vote because it will be devastating for the community.

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