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May. 28, 2020 | Thursday
Editorials and Opinions
Letter: Council caved to tourism interest in passing 'political' budget

Dear editor:

In my Jan. 9 letter to the editor, (“On budget, councillors need to think like owners”), I wrote the following with respect to the upcoming budget review and subsequent approval: There are two types of budgets: The business budget (owners and stakeholders) and political budgets. Which one are we getting?

Now we know the answer: We are getting, as is typical with politicians, The Political Budget – aka The Tourist Budget.

Our lord mayor and council once again bowed to and were beaten into submission by the demands and outright threats of the tourism industry interests.

At Lord Mayor Betty Disero’s first coffee meeting, in St. Andrew’s Kirk Hall, it was reported that a representative of the B&B community threatened “legal class action” if the town did not back down from pending plans that would increase B&B operating costs. 

Clearly a class act by these self-interested owners and a transparent attempt to leverage the town, knowing there had already been much negative media coverage over our legal cost issues.

It is patently clear by ignoring the hundreds of concerns and constructive criticism debated during the budget process, aka, “we want to be transparent campaign,” they once again have proven to be tone deaf to the residents’ wishes.

That is, until the next re-election dog-and-pony show when they want our votes.

The residents of Glendale, St. Davids, Virgil and anyone living outside the Queen Street and closed corridor known as Old Town in reality do not figure into any budget deliberations. As I said, it is a political / tourism budget.

Accordingly, by the actions of a few, a big portion of the increased revenue stream has blown up in their faces. 

Name and shame: In recent weeks it has been reported that we have upward of 90-plus illegal rentals in town. Clearly this presents the town and the legal B&B owners, who apparently know the names and addresses of the offenders, the opportunity to name and shame these bad actors.

Some Niagara regional media already publish the names of pending drunk-driving cases. Perhaps if we publish the offending cottage or B&B owners’ names it may well draw the attention of the Canada Revenue Agency.

If they are not paying licensing or other fees, are they declaring their rental income for tax purposes?

Finally, also on the subject of rentals. It appears that a home can be sold and suddenly pop up as a rental without the neighbour being advised of such a change in usage. No lawns signs, nothing. All of a sudden just another noisy rental next door on an otherwise quiet residential street.

It has happened several times in my immediate area, plus one of the worst noise and foul language offenders is an absentee, rental landlord.

Council should review our bylaws. Better still, freeze the rentals at the current level and review the situation every two years.

Samuel Young