Peterborough city council to vote on hotel tax, airport celebration funding

Peterborough City Hall. File

A hot topic during Peterborough’s council meeting on Tuesday will include the possibility of spending of nearly half a million dollars on a 50th Anniversary Celebration at Peterborough’s airport.

It’s an idea that one Peterborough taxpayer thinks is a very bad one.

“I am concerned, given the present economic and social conditions of the city, that spending half a million dollars on a party is not good,” said Eleanor Underwood.

“In fact, it should not be taking over precedent over expenditures elsewhere.”

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City staff say it would be a two-day celebration featuring the Canadian Forces Snowbirds aerial demonstration team. But Underwood says there are more important things the city should spend money on.

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“The middle of our city is in a state,” Underwood said. “We have numerous social problems [and] the city itself is filthy, so I think half a million dollars could be spent on cleaning up the city, on trees, it could be spent on a safe injection site.”

City councillor Stephen Wright, meanwhile, says he is a big supporter of the airport, but thinks there are other, more affordable ways the airport can celebrate this milestone.

“Randomly I stopped to talk to people on the street today and asked, if I have $500,000 to spend, what they feel would be the most important priority of the city, and none came up as an airshow or any kind of entertainment,” said Wright.

WATCH: Peterborough city council begins budget consultations (Jan. 15)

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Peterborough city council begins budget consultations – Jan 15, 2019

On the other hand, Coun. Keith Riel says he thinks it’s time we showcase the airport for what it is and this is a good way to spend the money.

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“Certainly for us to get the Snowbirds to come here and make an airshow like this here and the people to be able to go out and view the airport and take in this show, I think it’s money well spent,” said Riel.

Another item on tonight’s agenda is the possibility finalizing a new hotel room tax. Peterborough City council is considering charging a four per cent hotel tax starting this fall. If passed, the tax will be added to hotel rooms and motels. For now, however, it will exclude Airbnbs and bed and breakfasts. .

“Certainly it’s going to be roughly $500,000 to our tourist part of our business, which our PKED — or Peterorough-Kawartha Economic Development takes care of that, and certainly another $500,000 which we can put into our reserve funds to do some of the work we need to do for the city of Peterborough,” said Riel.

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Wright is also in support of the tax.

“I’m in favour of the hotel tax,” he said. “I think for PKED and [the] tourism board, it’s a great way of generating that additional revenue to start marking that destination.”

City council will make a decision on both items on Tuesday.


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