Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Pub Tax Exemption Adopted

Council Approves $300,000 Tax Exemption For Pub

City council gave final adoption to a bylaw last night that would give a $30,000/yr. tax exemption to the pub operating in the old train station.

It seems that city council was convinced that without this tax exemption it would not have been possible to rebuild the train station after the fire which nearly destroyed the historic site. This tax exemption was deemed necessary  in order for the pub to compete in the market place and without it would have been commercially a non-starter. Whether this is an example of government meddling in the marketplace where it should not be is a philosophical question that will be dictated by your political 'stripe'.

Whether the opening of another food and beverage business downtown in any way contributed to the recent restaurant closures is the subject of another debate. Since there are only so many dollars to go around in the 'going out to drink and dine' demographic any business which draws from this gropup likely has a negative effect on businesses already operating.

Of course, the businessmen who 'pitched' council on the need for a tax exemption were simply being good businessmen trying to gain whatever market advantage that they could. There is naturally no guarantee that even with this $2500/month boost that an enterprise in this location will be commercially viable, as business is a crap shoot at the best of times.

Resurrecting the train station from the ashes was a huge community effort and the new station is a vast improvement over what had previously stood on this site. Whether being financed with tax dollars after this fashion was necessary will never be known. The question of why insurance coverage was inadequate to replace this loss has never been addressed either. Perhaps this is just another example of how the Canadian taxpayer has always been the silent partner in the rail business in Canada as is the case today with the ICF's creative financing schemes.

Making downtown Nanaimo once again a commercially viable place to do business is a pursuit I am convinced this and following council's will pursue as long as they can continue financing this venture from the bottomless tax payer's purse. How commercially adept city council and city staff are is something only history will be able to judge.


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