Proposed fee hike to out-of-towners denied
South Peace News
A proposed Town of High Prairie fees bylaw was stopped dead in its tracks after a rousing debate on the fees for business licences.
Council debated the issue at its Feb. 9 meeting with Mayor Brian Panasiuk saying he could not support the bylaw as presented, which included a $300 non-residential business fee.
However, after the proposed fees were defeated, a second motion to revert back to the original fees was passed. The fees remain at $50 for High Prairie residents and $100 for non-residents.
“We need to promote business in our community,” Panasiuk said, adding a higher fee against any business sends the wrong message.
“I don’t want to prohibit those businesses,” he added.
Councillor Arlen Quartly agreed.
“I am totally against this. If you live out of town you have to pay more? I’m against this. That’s crazy. I think we’re going backwards. It’s just not right. Not right at all.”
Councillor Judy Stenhouse also questioned the fees asking why there was not just one flat rate.
CAO Rod Risling said local residents pay property taxes and as such pay more.
“Lots of municipalities have a higher fee,” he added, referring to non-residents.
“If you live outside, the locals might complain,” he added.
“There are a lot of businesses in town that rent. They do not pay property taxes.”
Quartly continued citing the food trucks that come to town.
“It’s really telling them you don’t want them.”
Councillor Brian Gilroy sits on the bylaw review committee and offered a reason for the proposed increase from the committee.
“It was brought up by some of the people – the business community and we’re responding to it.”
Councillor Donna Deynaka noted the food trucks and flag sellers do “take money out of the community.”
However, Panasiuk cited the positive side noting people who come to town and support those vendors may also spend money at other businesses.
Councillor Michael Long noted restaurants in town were hurting and recognized the food trucks had an “unfair advantage”.
“They don’t have the same overhead costs. We shouldn’t allow them to come in with an unfair advantage.”
Quartly responded by asking who the seafood truck vendor was competing against.
“I don’t think that hurts our regular restaurants. It’s called supplying a service.”
Councillors Gilroy and Deynaka opposed the motion.