Time for tourists and tourist businesses to pay their share
Re: Tourism helps support NOTL, says B&B owner (The Local Jan 30).
Just read the letter from a B&B owner, who would have you believe that we should all thank the tourist’s business operators for the wonderful town that we live in. Wherein it is the ratepayers of NOTL that subsidize the tourist business operators by paying for the roads, parks, beautification, upkeep of cultural aspects and waterfront protection that these tourist business operators use to entice visitors for their own profit.
But the letter doesn’t mention that these tourist business operators do not pay/contribute for the operating costs attributed to tourism. Indeed, these businesses do not contribute because NOTL does not have a commercial tax. So yes, we the ratepayers are directly subsidizing these businesses. It is time that tourists and tourist business operators pay their fair share towards the maintenance of the infrastructure they enjoy and profit by. No one in this debate is arguing for the elimination of tourism. Just that they pay their fair share.
Those in the accommodation industry need to stop the mindless and unsubstantiated doom and gloom that is attached to the Municipal Accommodation Tax (MAT). If accommodation taxes are the boogeyman they make it out to be, then hotels, restaurants and tourist attractions around the world would lay empty. It just isn’t so! Niagara Falls has an accommodation tax, yet it is cited as a location tourists would go to if NOTL implements a MAT.
Particularly galling are examples of ratepayer benefits of tourism, including increases to property values and that the growth of the town is directly attributed to tourists, by saying if people don’t come here first as tourists then they wouldn’t move here. People move to locations for many reasons … climate, to be close to family, availability of services, access to transportation, cultural aspects, to be near water, health care services, small town feel, etc. All of which we have here without tourists. If being a tourist is an overriding consideration then we would all be living in Disney World.
There can’t be a meaningful conversation about how to pay for ever-increasing operating costs by making the MAT a sacred cow that is not to be considered.
It’s time tourists and tourist business operators pay their fair share to relieve the tax burden that five members of council have placed on ratepayers. The 8.6 per cent tax increase could be fully eliminated by implementing a MAT.
Please stop blaming legal short-term rentals
Re: Hollowing Out of Neighbourhoods (The Local, Jan 30).
I must disagree with the letter that blames the “hollowing out” of Old Town on short-term rentals/cottages. It seems short-term rentals are too easy to blame.
I also live in Old Town. There are eight houses on my block but only one cottage rental. Of the eight homes, half are rarely ever occupied and represent second homes for the owners. This seems to be the norm in this part of town. I checked an adjacent street and found the same thing. So please don’t pick on cottage rentals for these home vacancies and the “hollowing out” of Old Town.
Short-term vacation rentals have, for decades, provided an important option for tourists who travel with family, children and/or pets. These are the most valuable tourists because they stay longer, typically a week. They are the town’s best “clients” as they shop locally, eat in local restaurants, attend the Shaw Festival Theatre and wineries. Furthermore, over half of the legal short-term rentals are owned and operated by people living here in town who take pride in their rental homes.
Despite what the author says, the licensed rentals are in fact paying for the proposed extra bylaw officers through the recently increased licence fees. Let’s hope these officers put an end to the illegal rentals that don’t pay any fees and are unregulated. And let us, please, stop blaming legal and regulated short-term rental cottages for “problems.”
Toy drive helps sick kids, parents
Thank you for your kind support to Jane Neaves’ second annual Christmas Toy Drive.
The toys were given to our paediatric oncology patients who had to spend Christmas in the hospital.
Your support helped many children and their families in so many ways. Parents and caregivers felt relief that they did not have to worry about the cost of toys as going through a cancer diagnosis puts many financial constraints on families. They did not have to think about leaving their child at the hospital to battle busy crowds of Christmas shoppers, when all they want to do is sit by their child’s side. They did not have to think about how they would get gifts to the hospital with the appropriate timing so that gifts would appear in their child’s room Christmas morning.
Children going through the cancer journey miss out on events, holidays and celebrations that healthy children get to experience. They often miss school, birthday parties of friends, going to a mall or watching a movie. Your support helped to ensure they did not miss out on Christmas and all of the happiness and magic the season brings.
Your support helped many children believe Santa brings gifts to children everywhere, even at the hospital.
On behalf of the children, their parents, hematology/oncology program and McMaster Children’s Hospital, please accept our sincere appreciation and thanks.
Maria Restivo, Nate Seroski, Nancy Stefin
Certified Child Life Specialists
McMaster Children’s Hospital
Congratulations on Local’s first anniversary
Congratulations Penny Coles and Karen Skeoch for your first anniversary of publishing The Local. You have earned a reason to celebrate.
I enjoy receiving The Local as I had for so many years receiving the Niagara Advance.
For the years Penny was editor at the Advance, she brought with her the ethical and informed reporting to Niagara-on-the-Lake citizens that is carried through to The Local.
Your efforts do not go without notice.
I wish you both continued success. It is comforting some good efforts do not change.