Hotels, airlines, restaurants, transportation and tourism have been particularly hard hit by COVID-19 restrictions, says Ponoka’s mayor.

Ponoka hotel asks town for $4,684 tax break

Request leads to lengthy debate

A decision on a request by Ponoka’s Canalta Hotel to have its property taxes reduced by 10 per cent has been put off by town concil.

The reduction would amount to $4,684.54, if approved.

“This is not normal. This is not regular times,” said Mayor Rick Bonnett at council’s recent meeting.

“This is not a business that normally comes begging — they’re usually doing well this time of year.”

Administration advised council to vote against the tax reduction for a number of reasons. Council ultimately tabled the item for a later date.

Coun. Kevin Ferguson questioned whether any other municipalities have granted businesses a 10 per cent tax reduction.

Coun. Clayton Nelson said it was a waste of time and effort to look into the matter further, when it wasn’t likely the town would approve the tax break anyway.

“We’ve done what we think is right for this community and I stand by that,” said Nelson.

“A little extra information never hurts,” Ferguson said in response.

Bonnett expressed frustration with the Municipal Government Act, noting it doesn’t allow municipalities to charge anyone over the base tax rate, if their business is doing extremely well.

The act only allows them to give tax breaks at their discretion.

“Again, we see through this COVID business that some businesses are doing very well and some businesses are devastated,” said Bonnett.

“We need more flexibility as municipalities to be able to do what we need to for our tax base and our citizens, rather than worrying about what’s written in a book.”

Industries hit particularly hard are hotels, airlines, restaurants, transportation and tourism, he says.

“We’ve got businesses that could pay up a lot more tax for some of these other businesses now that are devastated through no fault of their own,” said Bonnett.

“It’s not like they’ve gone bankrupt, or they’ve done anything that’s caused a problem. They got shut down by the federal and provincial governments of this world and the public health limitations that they’ve thrown on us … this is where it really angers me.”

Bonnett went on to say the provincial and federal governments should be responsible for helping out businesses rather than municipalities, but he said the supports being offered aren’t enough.

“They don’t need a wage subsidy — they have no income. When you have no revenue, it doesn’t mean nothing,” he said.

“So I get our frustration and our need for our revenue, but you’ve got to look at this picture from this business’s side. They have absolutely nothing in every town that they’re dealing with.”

HotelsTown of Ponoka

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