...another 'benefit' of Amalgamation?

City stabs rural business in the back --again--
 using unfair "harmonization" excuse.


From... The Ottawa Citizen:

Farmers' market fees 'just a big tax grab'

Country vendors fear equalizing charges with Byward will kill rural businesses

Carly Weeks
The Ottawa Citizen

February 1, 2005

Ottawa is being forced to reconsider a proposed bylaw that could see farmers' markets and rural vendors pay up to $150 a day, or $3,000 annually, in licence fees to run their businesses.

 
 
The move comes two weeks after Mayor Bob Chiarelli said he wanted to "address rural discontent."

 
 

The new bylaw will help to harmonize the mish mash of laws left over from pre-amalgamated Ottawa.

The move comes two weeks after Mayor Bob Chiarelli said he wanted to "address rural discontent."

But the proposed city bylaw, which would force farmers in rural North Gower and Carp to pay the same fee for a country farmers' market as those in the Byward Market, is quickly attracting the disdain of rural residents.

"The city is looking at very, very substantial amounts of money," said Andy Terauds, vice-president of the Carp Farmers' Market and co-owner of the Acorn Creek Garden Farm. "It's just a big tax grab."

Under provincial law, the city has until the end of the year to devise a new licensing fee system for the entire city. Former municipalities, such as West Carleton, Gloucester and Nepean, have been using their own licensing structures since amalgamation.

When he received notice of the proposed new fees last December, Mr. Terauds could practically see the Carp Farmers' Market crumbling in front of him.

"That's overhead we just can't afford to have as a farmers' market," he said.

While city officials have said farmers' markets will likely be exempt from licensing fees, Mr. Terauds said he is concerned the proposed bylaw will open the door for city councillors to begin charging market vendors to have licences.

Despite assurances from the city, Mr. Terauds said there's no guarantee in the new bylaw that will keep farmers' markets from paying expensive licensing fees.

If that's the case, as many as four markets will likely shut down, he said.

"The city has never had much interest in the rural economy," Mr. Terauds said. "Urban decision-makers are very urban-oriented, and can't see there's a difference out here."

The problem isn't the new bylaw, but the unbalanced way it would affect entrepreneurs in the core of the city and in outlying areas, said Gerry LePage, executive director of the Bank Street Promenade Business Improvement Area.

Since the same licence fees will be applied across the board, vendors in downtown Ottawa, who typically see significantly more traffic than vendors in rural areas, will have a huge financial edge, Mr. LePage said.

"On the one hand, you are giving an incredible competitive advantage to one sector, and you're giving an insurmountable competitive disadvantage to another," Mr. LePage said.

Under the current system in West Carleton, a vendor operating a chip stand, for instance, pays $150 a year. Under the new system, that fee would go up to $800 for people vending from a motor vehicle.

To obtain a licence for events classified as exhibitions, such as festivals, flea markets and farmers' markets, the person in charge would have to pay $3,000 a year under the proposed bylaw.

What's more, individual vendors would also have to pay for their own licences, which range from $100 for a one-day event, to $250 for an event on Canada Day, for instance, according to a notice sent to merchants by city staff in December.

But, after receiving numerous complaints, the city will review the fee structure, said Jules Bouvier, project officer for bylaw services.

Several changes have already been made, Mr. Bouvier said, such as eliminating the need for individual vendors to obtain their own licences at festivals or flea markets. Also, bylaw services will recommend farmers' markets be exempt from having to pay to obtain licences, Mr. Bouvier said.

But the city has no choice but to apply the same fee structure across the city, Mr. Bouvier said, even if that means merchants operating fruit stands on the outskirts of the city will pay as much as a busy hot dog vendor on Sparks Street.

"We have to follow the Municipal Act, the authority they give us, and presently there's no consideration for that," he said. "We don't have the authority to treat people differently, based on geographics."

The proposed bylaw was tentatively scheduled to be discussed at the emergency and protective services committee meeting on March 10, but will likely be pushed back while city officials revise the licence fees, Mr. Bouvier said.

 The Ottawa Citizen 2005


Letter to the Editor:

A different league

The Ottawa Citizen
February 14, 2005

Re: Farmers' market fees just a big tax grab, Feb. 1.

Charging farmers'-market vendors $150 a day at Carp or North Gower would drive most vendors out of business. The rural farmers' markets are not in the same league as Byward or Parkdale markets.

For some of the rural vendors, this is a hobby or sideline. Also, it is only one day a week, not a seven-day market.

What makes the rural markets successful? Their social aspect. They're friendly. No traffic. Lots of (free) parking. Children, dogs, seniors and the disabled are able to wander about safely. Customers know that the produce or craft for sale is local (not imported), varied, and above all fresh. And for those of us who prefer organic produce, it's there.

 
 
Including the rural areas in amalgamation was ludicrous. They are different. Let's make them a unique facet of the city, not try to make them carbon copies of urban life.

 
 

Several of the vendors sell heritage varieties of fruit and vegetables. If they have no market for their produce, we will lose a valuable resource.

I could buy fruit and vegetables at lower prices from the large grocery stores. But I enjoy my weekly excursion to the farmers' market. It isn't just a shopping trip. I know the vendors, and some know me by name. It is a social experience as much as anything else.

Including the rural areas in amalgamation was ludicrous. They are different. Let's make them a unique facet of the city, not try to make them carbon copies of urban life.

Sue McLean,
Kanata

 The Ottawa Citizen 2005

 

___________________________________________________________________________

HOME  |  ABOUT USSITE MAP  |  CLOSE PAGE  |  CONTACT US
 

www.RuralCouncil.ca