Haliburton County welcomes year of staycation funding

·2 min read

Warden Liz Danielsen said she welcomes a provincial tax credit for tourists aimed at making 2021 the “year of the staycation.”

The provincial government announced the credit in its budget Nov. 5. Although details have yet to be released, it will provide Ontarians with up to 20 per cent of eligible tourism expenses within the province. Ontario also announced a $100 million community building fund to support tourism, culture and sports organizations facing significant pressures in the pandemic.

Danielsen said the support is a positive development given the County’s dependence on tourism.

“The province’s commitment to invest in tourism, culture and sport is extremely welcome,” she said. “While we still await funding promised by the province for (Ontario Highlands Tourism Organization) to assist tourism operators with the losses they have seen this year, further investment will be welcomed and is needed to assist them through this ongoing crisis.”

OHTO expected the province to make a funding announcement for the region in July, but that was suddenly postponed and has yet to be announced. The Tourism Industry Association of Ontario (TIAO) welcomed the provincial budget, noting the tax credit was a key pillar in its budget consultation process recommendations.

“This will (help) businesses stay competitive in the most dynamic industry in the world and safeguard the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of Ontarians. This is an important first step to ensuring tourism is an integral part of our province’s economic recovery,” TIAO president and CEO Beth Potter said.

The provincial budget is also allotting business support.

Municipalities will now be allowed to cut property tax for small businesses, with the province to consider matching those reductions. But Danielsen said that is a “double-edged sword.”

“Allowing a property tax reduction to support small business during these difficult times sounds wonderful,” she said. “But the rest of the tax base (being all ratepayers) would have the burden of covering the shortfall.” She also offered praise for education tax rate reductions.

The province has committed to reducing business education tax rates for 94 per cent of all business properties in Ontario, to a rate of 0.88 per cent.

“We have been fortunate that the percentages for our education tax rates have remained stable over the last few years, but a reduction will definitely help municipalities and our ratepayers,” she said.

Danielsen said budgeting is challenging at all levels of government this year, but many aspects of the provincial budget work in the municipality’s favour.

“I am pleased to see so much emphasis placed on municipalities to help meet the challenges coming from the pandemic and assist in our collective recovery.”

Joseph Quigley, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Highlander