City Council has decided no changes will be coming to the tobacco retail fees. The fees were approved by the former council, and go towards tobacco reduction strategies.
Councillor Ken Baker has voiced his opposition on the fees, and in the February 27th Council meeting, his points created a heated discussion and sparked a review to be done regarding the legalities of the bylaw.
A legal review was completed and found that the licencing fees are within the City’s jurisdictional authorities. However, Councillor Ken Baker still questions it.
“I just want to make sure we’re on the right track with the law and I question that, regardless of legal council,” says Councillor Baker.
“As you know from day one, it’s not about tobacco it’s about the law and it’s about is it a just taxation on certain types of businesses. Personally, I still have a problem with the little corner stores, the mom and pop stores, competing with the multi box stores and getting charged the same rate,” adds Councillor Baker.
Councillor Jonathon Torresan says a review of the bylaw at later date is not out of the question.
“After we insured that we were on safe legal grounds for the bylaw we decided it’s not a good idea to be changing the bylaw after you’ve collected the fees this year and that we’re well into the year. I think we are going to be looking at in the summer when we look at our 2018 bylaw for business licences and at that time we’ll have another chance to debate whether or not we want to have the tobacco reduction fee.”
Mayor Gerald Aalbers says the bylaw will now sit on the books, and those who question it are free to challenge it.
“At this point no one has challenged it legally, that is a choice people have, if a business feels it is unconstitutional or whatever avenue they want but the bylaw is on the books today and it will sit on the books and move forward.”
Compared to other cities, Lloydminster is on the higher end when it comes to their fees:
- Hamilton-$685.00 for new/$613.00 for renewal
- St. Albert-$714.00
- Lloydminster-$750.00/plus $350.00 for flavoured tobacco
For the 2017 business year, the City of Lloydminster has collected $24,900.00 in Tobacco Retailer and Flavored Tobacco Product Retailer fees.