Visiting Downtown Guelph tax proposed

The City of Guelph is considering a tax targeted at visitors and shoppers to Downtown. The plan being examined is primarily focused on locally owned businesses and will exclude virtually every regional and national retailer in Guelph.

The City of Guelph has suffered from the downloading of responsibilities by it’s provincial parent, without the requisite funding.

For example, it costs a lot of money to provide residents clean, safe and reliable water. Municipalities can charge users for the service of delivering water.

The Province of Ontario has recently enacted new regulations as to the use of lead in the City’s water service. This has resulted in a $1,000.000 increase to the City’s 2008 water budget. The average homeowner will see a $50 increase.

This is not an excuse for an increase to your water bill. This is the reality.

The municipality has very limited taxing ability. Funds generated are primarily property based. This is an assessment on the value of your property in Guelph. This does not measure the ability of residents to pay their taxes. It simply taxes their address.

It doesn’t matter that one person makes $25,000 a year and their next door neighbour makes $250,000 a year. Both will pay the same amount of money to the municipality.

The other main source of funding is development charges (DC’s). This is income generated from growth. This is why municipalities look to growth for cash. The unfortunate problem with this tax is that growth isn’t always a net positive undertaking.

The province also limits the services that can be covered by development charges. Museums hold no value to the community under the Development Charges Act.

Guelph residents love their Downtown. They enjoy it’s diverse restaurants, shop in it’s locally owned businesses and entertain themselves in it’s culture.

The City of Guelph can generate a substantial amount of money just by taxing the loyal people that visit the Downtown. 

This will probably not help to stimulate investment in Downtown, but Guelph needs the short term income.

Starting in the Fall of 2008, visitors to Downtown Guelph may have to drop coins in a post mounted device located close to where they park their car.

Failure to do so may result in fines, driver licence suspension or vehicles being impounded.

Another idea being considered is a toll booth or transponder system on Stone Road. This tax collection system would be located at all intersections leading to the large commercial area. Monies raised will be used to manage the service, maintain infrastructure and keep matters orderly. This idea is still in it’s development stage.

Call your ward Councillor to express your concern about these unpopular forms of taxation.                                      Ian