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Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce

Daily Update: February 24, 2023

Regional council finalizes budget with 7.58 per cent tax increase, inflation rate expected to fall significantly this year, and more.

In this edition:

Regional council finalizes budget with 7.58 per cent tax increase

Niagara Region council completed its most challenging budget in years Thursday night, settling on a 7.58 per cent increase to the upper-tier municipality’s portion of property tax bills.

The increase means that for the average property assessed at $278,764, the Regional portion of the tax bill will increase by $120 to $1,740 in 2023. While the average property value for Niagara may seem low, Regional staff makes the calculation using assessments from the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation or MPCA assessments, not the current sales value of the home.

“While every budget is challenging, it has been well over two decades since the Niagara Region has been required to pass such a difficult budget,” Regional Chair Jim Bradley said in a publicly released statement.
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Inflation rate expected to fall significantly this year

After a steep and rapid climb in prices, Canada’s inflation rate is expected to fall significantly this year, giving comfort to economists worried about untamed price growth but little relief to Canadians who have fallen behind.

Inflation, which first began creeping higher in 2021, took off dramatically last year and peaked at 8.1 per cent in the summer.

That’s well above the two per cent inflation target the Bank of Canada is supposed to maintain.

The run-up in prices was sparked by what Desjardins’ chief economist Jimmy Jean called a “perfect storm” — the reopening of economies after COVID-19 restrictions, the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the disruptions in supply chains.

As that storm continues to dissipate, price pressures have relented, giving glimmers of hope that normalcy in price growth may be restored.

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St. Catharines food truck and vendor applications open on March 1

Starting on March 1, applications are being accepted for food truck and mobile vending cart operators to set up shop at City of St. Catharines parks and facilities for the season.

Launched last year, the policy was developed in response to resident and business requests and allows businesses to apply for a dedicated space each year.

Vendors can request a specific location by suggesting it on their application form based on the criteria outlined in the policy. Parking availability and proximity to other food services will also be considered. The application process will give preference to accessible, environmentally friendly, and Niagara-based organizations.

Successful applicants will need to obtain their Hawkers and Peddlers Licence, a food truck and mobile vending cart park permit, and they will need to pay an environmental fee.

Interested businesses can fill out an application anytime between March 1 and 31 at

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Government revenue from control and sale of alcohol almost ten times that of recreational cannabis in 2022

In total, federal and provincial governments earned $15.2 billion from the control and sale of alcohol ($13.6 billion, +1.1%) and recreational cannabis ($1.6 billion) in the fiscal year ending March 31, 2022. This includes net income from provincial liquor and cannabis authorities, excise taxes, retail sales taxes, other specific taxes, and licenses and permits.

Overall, liquor authorities and other retail outlets sold $26.1 billion worth of alcoholic beverages in the fiscal year ending March 31, 2022, up 2.4% from a year earlier. The increase in sales of alcoholic beverages was driven by inflation, which rose 2.8% for alcoholic beverages purchased from stores from March 2021 to March 2022.

By volume, wine sales decreased 4.0% to 516 million litres in 2021/2022, which is equivalent to 2.4 standard glasses of wine per week per person of legal drinking age. This was the largest decrease in the volume of wine sold since Statistics Canada began tracking alcohol sales in 1949.

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Niagara Region declares state of emergency over homelessness, mental health and opioid addiction

There was an emotional debate over whether to declare a state of emergency over homelessness, mental health and opioid addiction in Niagara.

Niagara’s public health and social services committee brought the issue to Regional Council last night asking to declare states of emergency for the three areas of concern, while also declaring homelessness a federal humanitarian crisis.

Council agreed and voted to make the moves.

St. Catharines Mayor Mat Siscoe asked for a recorded vote on the matter saying residents should know who is willing to take action.

St. Catharines Coun. Laura Ip voted against the motion saying she won’t support a feel-good public relations move, “When we declare these states of emergency and the province continues to ignore us we need the public to understand that what we’ve done and have been doing is everything that we can do. I don’t want to give people the impression that declaring states of emergency actually mean something, I don’t want to give them a sense of false hope and then when nothing happens they blame us for the lack of results when there were no results to be had from such a move.”

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Focus on Human Resources

The art of due diligence in workplace safety: Don’t learn the ‘right’ way the ‘hard’ way

We have all experienced it: We hear something in the news or through the grapevine that send chills up our spines, and plants fear into our very cores.

A workplace incident or accident has occurred. A horrific and tragic sequence of events led to a terrible mishap, and a worker — or workers — have been injured. Or worse, have died. Perhaps all workers were thankfully safe but there is significant damage to property, the result of some freak event. Business owners everywhere shutter at the thought: “What if this happened to me?”

Employers spend time and resources making sure they are compliant in the law. The hassle associated with a visit from authorities that results in orders or fines is something they wish to avoid at all costs.
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Through the Daily Updates, the GNCC aims to deliver important business news in a timely manner. We disseminate all news and information we feel will be important to businesses. Inclusion in the Daily Update is not an endorsement by the GNCC.

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