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Niagara-on-the-Lake
Friday, September 30, 2022
Letter: Business improvement area better than accommodation tax
Lettertotheeditormale

Dear editor:

Last week’s story, “Tourism rep unhappy with mayor’s advocacy for accomodation tax,” on Lord Mayor Betty Disero’s efforts to improve the appearance of the community through the introduction of a municipal accommodation tax is informative, but the lord mayor’s efforts are misguided.

The explanation provided by Disero is that such a tax might be needed to offset capital improvements and upgrade charges to areas such as Queen Street and in Virgil – to the tune of $1 million.

Have members of the business community been asked their opinion?

There are other tools that the municipality might use without establishing a municipal accommodation tax – like a Business Improvement Area, or BIA.

A Business Improvement Area can access funding from other levels of government to improve a business area.

In particular, provincial legislation states that BIAs are local boards and municipalities have considerable flexibility in the creation and operation of BIAs.

A 2010 BIA handbook is available online through a simple Google search. The handbook includes information on selected provincial economic development tools that local governments can use in partnership with local business and commercial property owners, including business incubator programs and Community Improvement Plans (known as CIPs).

Municipalities are encouraged to work with BIAs and local communities to devise solutions that work best in each area.

It may be time for the lord mayor to consider establishing BIAs in the Heritage District of Queen Street, as well as Virgil and St. Davids, to access readily available alternative funds, rather than to introduce a new tax that may be detrimental to our tourism industry.

Derek Insley

Virgil