The Prince Albert Chamber of Commerce and the city don’t see eye-to-eye on how to best attract tourists to P.A.
Mayor Greg Dionne says the city will establish committees and boards with the goal of putting heads in beds next year.
“We’re looking at the tourism [committee] being run by the PAREDA, the regional economic development authority,” Dionne said, referring to the city’s plan to establish an authority similar to Saskatoon or Regina’s. “The Destination Marketing Fund, we’ll be bringing a couple of models to council for them to consider.”
Currently, the Destination Marketing Fund Board sits vacant, despite the city collecting a levy from each hotel in 2016 to fund the board and market the city as a tourism destination. At the end of 2016, the fund had $305,000 sitting in it.
In November, the Chamber of Commerce released a statement saying they believe “municipal officials are not doing enough to find cost savings in Prince Albert, and this has a negative effect on business.” In the statement, the chamber refers to a report from the Canadian Federation of Business which found the city has one of the highest commercial property tax gaps in the province.
Chamber CEO, Larry Fladager, said the chamber and their member hotels believe the new levy, which replaces a previous fee, is another example of the city taxing businesses with little direction.
“We’re frustrated because they don’t seem to want to make any meaningful progress to reduce that tax ratio,” Fladager explained, “and in fact a special levy like the put on the [Destination Marketing Fund] is just another blow to businesses in terms of a tax they have to pay.”
“We’re still quite unsure what in fact the city is doing with that money because they have not given out a plan of any sort,” he added.
Dionne said the chamber and the hotels will reap the benefit of the levy in the future, and the city needed to collect the fees before a plan could be established. Other cities across the province, and the country, issue similar levies and the program is consistent with previous administrations’ plans.
“We’re actually going hunting for business as I call it. We’re just not going to wait until something comes along, we’re going to be very proactive,” Dionne said, “that’s our plan for the future, to be very aggressive. That’s why I’m excited about it, we’re finally going to have an opportunity to showcase the city of Prince Albert.”
The mayor will present options for the creation of the Destination Marketing Fund Board as well as the ground work for the P.A. Regional Economic Development Authority once council resumes after the holidays.
On Twitter: @stroneill
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