B.C. posts a surplus thanks to a whopping increase in income tax revenues

Finance minister Mike De Jong, fond of grocery shopping metaphors, briefs reporters on the budget

Plus, Whalley fights its erasure from the map and an insider’s view of Lululemon

Surplus surprise
B.C. is “firmly back in the black,” in the words of Finance Minister Mike de Jong, thanks to a surprise $1.68 billion surplus$1.3 billion higher than forecast last year. And that’s thanks, almost entirely, to a mysterious windfall in revenues: $670 million from Crown corporations like B.C. Lottery Corp. and BC Hydro, a $250-million increase in monies from the property transfer tax, and a whopping $1.2-billion increase in revenues from personal income tax over last year. That’s right, we paid 17 per cent more in income taxes in 2015 than the year before.

As for the debt, it crept up to $62.9 billion thanks in part to capital projects: hospital expansions in Vancouver and Surrey and the prep for the future bridge to Delta. Also of note, the government’s pension liabilities are in remarkably good shape, perhaps partly because of public sector unions, who were given a say in how they’re governed back in the late ’90s, or so writes Vaughan Palmer in the Vancouver Sun.

Who killed Whalley?
Poor Whalley, the Surrey neighbourhood that can never seem to catch a break. Better known for trailer parks shadowed by condo towers and a high crime rate—of all of Vancouver’s rapidly gentrifying neighbrhoods, it wouldn’t have much to lose. Yet, now the City of the Surrey wants to kill its name, and the names of its streets in order “shift perceptions” of the area. Both the city and its tourism agency now call the area “Surrey North,” a rebrand that’s been a decade in the making. Now residents—with the help of the RCMP—want to reclaim their neighbourhood’s name. As explains one business owner in a loving tribute in Surrey Now: “Put simply, they’re proud of their roots, and it wasn’t long ago many felt that the city and developers were trying to get rid of the name Whalley.” Newton, you’re next. 

My life in an exploitative libertarian happiness cult
Jezebel has a 3,090-word screed from an anonymous former employee that, while by no means balanced, will give you at the very least a glimpse into Lululemon’s famously cult-like corporate culture—or make for an enjoyable waste of time. And below, a few choice quotes:

“Lululemon is all about ideals. The man and woman Lululemon designs for and creates marketing for is called our ‘muse’: the man is called Duke, and the woman is called Ocean. Anything you do, you appeal to that ideal, imaginary muse. Ocean makes six figures, she doesn’t want to have kids, she has a master’s degree, her core workout is yoga and she also likes running and spinning. The whole idea is that your guest is never going to actually be Ocean. It’s aspirational. They can try, but they’ll never be…

“There’s an ideal employee, too, who’s a different person than the ideal guest. A person in leadership at Lululemon is relentlessly positive, willing to fully buy in without question and super “entrepreneurial.” Upper-level managers all talk in the exact same weird fake Canadian accent. You don’t necessarily need to be thin, but you need to work out constantly: if you don’t, you’re not a culture fit. The company is also extraordinarily white…

“In general, a lot of the people in leadership don’t have very much grounding in how a business should be run. Many of the women have never had other jobs, have only ever worked at this one company; they’re people who didn’t know what they wanted to do with their lives and then found Lululemon.”