This is page numbers 4571 - 4620 of the Hansard for the 18th Assembly, 3rd Session. The original version can be accessed on the Legislative Assembly's website or by contacting the Legislative Assembly Library. The word of the day was yellowknife.

Topics

Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

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The Chair R.J. Simpson

Minister.

Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

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Alfred Moses Inuvik Boot Lake

Thank you, Mr. Chair. The bill allows for a municipality to choose to implement this tax. GNWT is not putting the tax on people. It is up to the municipality. As you have heard before, we have five other tax-based communities that decided not to do this, and we have one municipality that has decided to put this through, should this bill get assent. Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

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The Chair R.J. Simpson

Thank you, Minister. Mr. Thompson, your time has expired. I have no one further on my list, so we will move to a clause-by-clause review of the bill.

Committee, we will defer the bill number and title until after consideration of the clauses. Please turn to page 1 of the bill. I will call out the clauses. After I call out the clause, if committee agrees, please respond accordingly. Are we ready?

Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters
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Kieron Testart Kam Lake

Agreed.

Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

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The Chair R.J. Simpson

Thank you, Mr. Testart. Clause 1.

Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters
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Some Hon. Members

Agreed.

Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters
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The Chair R.J. Simpson

Thank you. Clause 2. Mr. Thompson.

Committee Motion 81-18(3): Amendment to Clause 2, Bill 18: An Act to Amend the Cities, Towns and Villages Act, Defeated
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

October 30th, 2018

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Shane Thompson Nahendeh

Thank you, Mr. Chair. A motion to Amend the Cities, Towns and Villages Act, that clause 2 of Bill 18 be amended by deleting proposal subclause 70.1(5) and substitute the following: (5) tourism accommodations tax must not be imposed under this section if the subject of the tax is a resident of the Northwest Territories. Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Committee Motion 81-18(3): Amendment to Clause 2, Bill 18: An Act to Amend the Cities, Towns and Villages Act, Defeated
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

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The Chair R.J. Simpson

Thank you, Mr. Thompson. A motion has been made. It is being distributed. It has been distributed. The motion is in order. To the motion, Mr. Thompson.

Committee Motion 81-18(3): Amendment to Clause 2, Bill 18: An Act to Amend the Cities, Towns and Villages Act, Defeated
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

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Shane Thompson Nahendeh

Mr. Chair, clause 2 of Bill 18 adds a new section to the Cities, Towns and Villages Act that allows tax-based municipalities to levy a tax on tourism accommodations. Under clause 2, the new section 70.1(5) provides a list of exemptions, that is, a list of types of accommodations or classes for the persons and organizations who may be exempt from paying the tax. These include accommodations rented for more than 30 days, accommodations costing less than $20 per night, the Government of the Northwest Territories and its public boards and agencies, a person and his or her family being accommodated on medical travel, a person paying out of pocket for a stay at the hospital or health care facilities, or any other exemptions provided that are in the regulations.

During review, the standing committee heard from the majority of the public that the list of exclusions is too long. The City of Yellowknife, who is the primary proponent of the bill, said the City would prefer that Bill 18 not contain such an exhaustive list of exclusions. The Explorer Hotel expressed concern about the burden that the exclusions would place on front-line staff to determine eligibility for exclusions. This is important because the bill contemplates the designation of a hotel operator as a tax agent for the municipality. The Explorer Hotel said it will be difficult for a front desk worker or reservation agent to challenge a government official as to the purpose of their trip.

Mr. Chair, during the clause-by-clause review of the bill, committee moved a motion to amend this provision by deleting the list of exclusions and replacing it with a single exclusion for all NWT residents. Unfortunately, the Minister did not concur, and the motion was defeated. I bring forward this motion again, and I support it for two reasons.

First, it simplifies administration of the tax for hotel operators. Anyone who pays for accommodations and can show proof of NWT residence using any government-issued ID card would be exempt.

Secondly, this is meant to be a tax on tourists travelling to the Northwest Territories. The NWT is already an expensive place to live and work, and I do not feel that it is fair to tax NWT residents in this way to support a municipal tourism objective. I am worried about the impact of adding this additional cost on local governments travelling to Yellowknife for meetings and training. These local governments are already underfunded annually by the GNWT to the tune of more than $30 million per year. I am also especially worried about the potential negative impact of this levy on amateur sport teams, who scrimp and fundraise for every dollar that they can get in order to travel to sporting events.

For these reasons, I support this motion today and ask for the support of my colleagues in the south. Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Committee Motion 81-18(3): Amendment to Clause 2, Bill 18: An Act to Amend the Cities, Towns and Villages Act, Defeated
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

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The Chair R.J. Simpson

Thank you, Mr. Thompson. To the motion. Mr. Testart.

Committee Motion 81-18(3): Amendment to Clause 2, Bill 18: An Act to Amend the Cities, Towns and Villages Act, Defeated
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

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Kieron Testart Kam Lake

Thank you, Mr. Chair. Mr. Chair, I appreciate where the Member is coming from. I know many Northerners are constantly concerned about the ever-increasing cost of living, especially those in small communities.

However, what these amendments were designed to do is to empower cities, towns, and villages to implement taxes to support tourism opportunities in their communities. When the standing committee consulted with all of the six cities, towns, and villages that would be subject to these new bylaw provisions, the vast majority of them spoke in favour of the City of Yellowknife being allowed to do this.

My concern is, if we bring forward this kind of blanket exemption, we already know that the current list of exemptions is going to eat up 30 to 40 percent of the current taxes. An all-NWT exemption is going to further erode the tax revenues and potentially make this amendment pointless in terms of its design, which is to provide the City of Yellowknife with much-needed resources to support tourism operations and a thriving tourism economy.

Again, I appreciate where the Member is coming from. The municipalities are able to offer their own list of exemptions. This is something that a sports organization or a financial organization with limited resources could potentially negotiate with the City of Yellowknife. My understanding, as well, is that the hoteliers often provide discounted room rates to sports teams or other charity organizations.

I think there is goodwill in the community to support people with limited resources, and I don't think that we need to put this broad an exemption in place, because, again, I think it will defeat the purpose of the motion, make it a moot point, and send the City of Yellowknife, who has worked very hard bringing this forward, worked very hard with their colleagues in the NWTAC, and bring them back to square one in finding new revenues for tourism.

I can't support this amendment, and I encourage my colleagues who have looked over our reports to do the same. Thank you.

Committee Motion 81-18(3): Amendment to Clause 2, Bill 18: An Act to Amend the Cities, Towns and Villages Act, Defeated
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

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The Chair R.J. Simpson

Thank you, Mr. Testart. To the motion. Minister Moses.

Committee Motion 81-18(3): Amendment to Clause 2, Bill 18: An Act to Amend the Cities, Towns and Villages Act, Defeated
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

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Alfred Moses Inuvik Boot Lake

Thank you, Mr. Chair. Mr. Chair, I cannot support the motion. Currently, Bill 18 provides an exemption for the Government of the Northwest Territories and individuals on medical travel. It also provides an exemption for persons staying in accommodation for more than 30 days in a row for less than $20 night. The substantial amendment proposed by SCOGO would eliminate these exemptions and instead include an exemption for all residents of the Northwest Territories.

The exemptions included in Bill 18 were researched and analyzed prior to including them in the legislative proposal and formed a key component of our department's consultation with the community governments for which these amendments will apply. The exemptions included in the bill strike a balance of the input received through our stakeholder consultation and reflects an approach that all stakeholders can support.

Through our market analysis, we found that reliable data on the different types of hotel stays was not available. I therefore cannot support changes to the legislation without fully understanding the intended and unintended consequences of the changes to the exemptions.

Finally, but most importantly, MACA has worked very closely with community governments throughout the development of this legislative initiative. To change the provisions of the bill in this manner at this late stage without their involvement does not support our process on partner engagements. Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Committee Motion 81-18(3): Amendment to Clause 2, Bill 18: An Act to Amend the Cities, Towns and Villages Act, Defeated
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

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The Chair R.J. Simpson

Thank you. To the motion, recognizing that we have six and a half minutes here. Mr. McNeely.