Mountain News 

Canmore nixes second-homeowner tax

By Allen Best

CANMORE, Alberta – The Canmore council has backed off its plan raise taxes on second homes by 30 per cent. Renters said that the tax unduly impacted them. As such, the higher property tax will be applied only to those second homes that are used primarily for vacations or weekends. Second homes used as rental properties will stay the same.

The part-time population last year rose 27 per cent, while the permanent population rose 1 per cent. In Alberta, town governments depend upon appropriations from the provincial government, and the Alberta government does not recognize part-timers in its calculations.

The Rocky Mountain Outlook praised the council for its reconsideration. “No council can be expected to provide good government when they are constantly jerking their collective knees in the face of criticism, but responding to one’s critics when they have a valid point is the right thing to do.”

 

Alternatives to big boxes

CARBONDALE, Colo. – Town trustees in Carbondale, located 30 miles down valley from Aspen, continue to chew on alternatives to a big-box retailer. Among the ideas they’ve discussed is a cap of 60,000 square feet on stores.

Still, they’re being courted by big-box retailers, among them The Home Depot. Company representatives will speak to the town board on Feb. 27, and presumably will predict a fortune in sales tax revenues.

But Carbondale residents in a vote two years ago rejected one plan for a big-box retailer, fearing eventual homogenization of the town. Despite one of the prettiest settings of any resort valley in the West, it still has the feel and look of the old potato-farming and coal-mining town that it once was.

To bolster their case, those citizens have recruited Michael Shuman, an economist and attorney, who coined the phrase “small-mart revolution.” In this obvious play on words, he argues that local communities need not be reactive, but can aggressively create a more long-lasting healthy economy. To do this, he encourages they create malls anchored by local businesses, not by national retailers.

In the case of Carbondale, he suggests the town buy the land in question, 25 acres, even if the price in question is well in excess of $8 million. “I’m suggesting that you just buy the land and other private entrepreneurs come in and decide how to use the land. Nobody is going to lose their shorts buying land in Carbondale,” he says.

Why are local retailers better than national franchises? Schurman, an economist, argues an economic one: Only 10 to 15 per cent of the revenue stream from a typical chain store goes back onto the community, compared to 30 to 40 per cent for a locally owned and operated store.

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