Imagine if a business could set its own property tax rate, develop land without having to obtain local approvals and could operate without having to answer to our elected officials. Would we want a business like this in our community? Well, look no further than our own Vancouver Airport Authority (YVR).
Some years back, the federal government partially privatized operations of major Canadian airports, including YVR and Victoria International Airport. The government granted airport authorities with many powers but little oversight and accountability over how they operate.
Today, the federal government is reviewing whether to fully privatize airports. YVR says this would threaten local control and community input. Yet, YVR doesn’t listen to our community now! YVR can self-assess the taxes they pay to the City of Richmond, raise airport user fees at will, carry out land development projects without local approvals, and turn a deaf ear to workers’ concerns. If airport authorities aren’t accountable to our elected officials, how accountable are they going be to low-wage airport workers?
We think it is time to change the way airport authorities work with our communities. We don’t want privatization and we don’t want the status quo.
In October, UNITE HERE Canada appeared before the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance to call for federal reform of airport governance and made several recommendations to make airport authorities more accountable to workers and to our cities. We want real accountability from YVR and other major airport authorities so that they contribute their fair share, coordinate with our local municipalities, and engage meaningfully with airport workers.