PICTOU – A local tourism group’s request for funding from the Town of Pictou has been granted, but not for the full amount it requested.
Pictou councillors agreed Monday to give Destination Eastern and Northumberland Shores $1,800 in funding this year, although the organization that promotes tourism in 11 municipalities in northern and eastern Nova Scotia asked for $4,200.
“Eighteen hundred is more than fair,” said Pictou Mayor Joe Hawes during a committee of the whole meeting earlier this month. “We do spend a lot of money on culture and recreation.”
The town cited tourism expenses such as the deCoste Entertainment Centre, Hector Heritage Quay, fisheries museum, marina and Lobster Carnival as some of the other tourism-related projects it supports outside of its DEANS contribution.
Pictou CAO Scott Conrod said there is some benefit for the town participating in DEANS, but he would like to see the town be charged more on a user-pay basis rather than uniform assessment.
“If tourism is an industry, why are we giving them a subsidy?” Hawes asked. “We don’t do it for Aecon Fabco or Grohmann Knives.”
Meanwhile, town council also had a few issues concerning a new business levy that DEANS would like to see implemented so it could increase its marketing campaign for the area.
If approved by the province, the levy would add an extra $2 to a person’s accommodation bill that would be used by DEANS for marketing in the region. Such levies already exist in Cape Breton, HRM and Yarmouth counties. The collection of tax would be handled by the municipalities and handed over to DEANS.
DEANS made presentations to each of the 11 municipalities and is asking for a letter of support that it will take to the Nova Scotia legislature. If approved by the legislature, DEANS will then ask the municipalities to implement the levy, at which point the public and those in the accommodations business would have an opportunity to have their input heard before anything is finalized.
Pictou town councillors said they didn’t have a problem supporting the levy, but didn’t want town staff to be involved in the administration of it.
“I have no problem passing a bylaw to do it, but no way is the Town of Pictou staff to do it,” he said. “They have enough to do without looking after that.”
Councillors said they were confused on whether the letter of support was related to the funding request so they decided to address both issues in one motion.
In the end, a resolution was passed stating that the town will support the levy based on the condition that DEANS look at its core funding requirements based on uniform assessment.