|Written By: Roger Liddle,
|Originally Published in the May/June 1996
issue of The Outfitter Magazine.
Another victory for NOTO, thanks to Minister Hodgson and Premier Harris. After ten long years of fighting former governments, our message finally hit home. The Harris government has kept its promise of supporting small business. NOTO and the tourism industry appreciate and thank you, Minister Hodgson, for your decision. Following is the letter received May 1st from the Minister.
Dear Mr. Liddle:
I am pleased to be writing to you today about the non-revenue producing commercial waterlot authorization fee.
As you know, last September I agreed to review the authorization requirement and subsequently committed, in the Legislature, to determine a course of action by May of 1996.
After careful evaluation, I wish to advise you that the Ministry will be discontinuing the requirement of a one-time fee of $125 for the authorization of a non-revenue producing commercial waterlots.
Consideration will be given in the future to incorporating non-revenue producing commercial water lot charges within the context of all Crown land rental fees. Over the next six months, the Ministry will undertake a thorough review of Crown land authorization requirements. We will consult with your organization as we undertake the review.
I trust that my decision meets with your satisfaction. I look forward to continuing cooperation with you and your Association.
Honourable Chris Hodgson, Minister of Natural Resources
In mid April your NOTO Board of Directors met in Toronto for three days of meetings and discussions around a variety of issues. One of the more important meetings was with Minister Saunderson (MEDTT). The more we meet with this gentleman, the more comfort all your Board has with him, with his soft but firm approach, and his great desire to assist our northern tourism industry.
There were a number of issues he reported on back to your Board and a number of new concerns which we discussed.
The Minister reviewed the status of the proposed Ontario Tourism Council, a public sector body which would take over marketing responsibilities in the province, and asked us to consider the draft of the implementation proposal, and respond as soon as possible. Copies have been sent to Branch Groups. Please call the office if you would like to review the document.
NOTO had asked the Minister last fall to meet with financial leaders to investigate easier opportunities for small tourism businesses to access capital. He has met with some and has meetings set with others. When complete he committed to convey the results of those meetings to us with suggested action plans.
A new issue which we brought to his attention is the vast and growing market for private cottage rentals throughout the province. We even provided him with a copy of one of the many “private cottage rental directories” available at most book and corner stores.
Individuals who rent their private cottages generally do not report their revenues to the government, which is a flagrant violation of the Income Tax Act. In addition, no P.S.T. or G.S.T. is submitted, no additional taxes are paid for the use of the resources and no employment is created as would be if those same guests stayed at a licensed, tax paying and reputable tourist establishments.
Your Board unanimously agrees that we, as taxpayers, are offended that our “small business” industry adheres to the paying of full taxes to support highways, education and health costs in Canada and the province, while some citizens with summer cottages are allowed to violate the principles of our taxation system. The Minister admitted he was unaware that this was happening to the extent that it is, and he promised he would be taking up the matter with the Minister of Finance as soon as possible. We look forward to hearing the response.
From all indications from members across the north, this year will not be a banner year as 1995 was. Many outfitters are reporting bookings down from 8% to as high as 30% in some areas. There seems to be no consensus as to the cause; however I would strongly suggest we all, including both the Federal and Provincial governments, take a good look at and begin to reevaluate our marketing and incentive programs.
The Resource Based Tourism Policy has been receiving much attention from your Board as well as a large number of NOTO members. I asked for our membership’s assistance and input, and we have received it. I am very pleased, and encouraged, that our membership, from all across the north, recognize how critical a good and sound policy will be to the future health and success of our industry.
We had recently asked both Minister Saunderson and Hodgson for a delay in the formulation of the Resource Based Tourism Policy for a Variety of reasons, from the earlier deadline of June, to mid October. Minister Saunderson responded he would support us in the request for the delay.
Many of our association branch groups in the east and west have met with Jim Grayston and given him direct input as to solutions to the various issues. In Minneapolis when Jim and I met with the outfitters attending a sport show there, we had some great input and recommendations as how to deal with and formulate a solidified position. Hats off and “THANK YOU” to all those individuals and branch groups special thanks to Mal Tygesson for assisting greatly in our sportshow meetings and rallying the troops.
On April 19th, 18 NOTO members from Northeastern Ontario met in North Bay to formulate some further concrete ideas towards solving our issues. On the 25th, 18 Northwestern Ontario NOTO members along with two reps from the Northern Ontario Native Tourism Association (NONTA) met in Thunder Bay to pull all the thoughts and ideas together that have been gathered from submissions to NOTO to date. A further meeting with two to four reps from each of the drive-in, semi-remote and remote sectors will take place in mid May to further refine ideas and positions.
The MNR has just recently appointed a new helmsman to steer the government policy formulation, public discussion and eventual Cabinet approval. Jim Grayston, Brian Dykstra and I will be meeting with Dave de Launey in early May to continue mapping the course of the final conclusion and acceptance of the policy. We are confident at this point we will have a solid and sound policy proposal for Cabinet to consider.