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Percé’s new tourist fee already contested

Percé set up a tourist fee on Sunday that does not suit everyone in the village. And some, including SEPAQ, are demanding a moratorium on its implementation for the sake of fairness with the Gaspésiens who live on the outskirts of Percé and who will be subject to this new puncture in the same way as tourists from outside the peninsula. .

Every transaction over $20 made in Percé has been increased by $1 since last Sunday.

The objective of this tourist fee is to share the burden of the infrastructures devoted to welcoming visitors to the village, the construction and maintenance of which cost close to $800,000 annually. A heavy price to pay for the 3,000 inhabitants of the municipality, which welcomes 500,000 tourists each year, but whose budget is limited to 7.7 million dollars.

Thanks to this royalty, the mayor, Cathy Poirier, plans to add $1.5 million a year to the city’s coffers – enough to develop and operate the trails, parks, beaches and marinas frequented by tourists.

CONTESTATION

A group of about forty merchants from Percé, however, decries the new fee, the application of which is their responsibility. “Without having been consulted beforehand, [ils] will be obliged to be the ones who will collect the tourist fee under penalty of hefty fines handed over by the City of Percé in the event of refusal,” laments one of the group’s spokespersons, Jean-François Gagné.

Another committee spokesperson, Olivier Lafontaine, told the To have to that even SEPAQ, which is responsible for Parc national de l’Île-Bonaventure-et-du-Rocher-Percé, raises questions about the legality of the regulation, in particular the obligation it imposes on merchants to collect the fee . According to the information provided by Mr. Lafontaine, SEPAQ also considers it “advisable to delay the application of the new regulation”.

The spokesperson for the Society of Outdoor Establishments of Quebec, Simon Boivin, indicates for his part that the SEPAQ remains “in discussion with the municipality about the fee for tourists”, specifying that he does not want to comment further on the file. “for the present time”.

Merchants who contravene the new regulations are liable to a fine of $2,000. And a second offense will result in a penalty twice as high if it is committed in the same year as the first. The protest committee, which brings together some thirty people from the business community, denounces a “disguised and illegal tax” which is far from applying, according to him, only to user-payers. Its members are therefore asking for a suspension of the application of the measure so that it can be fine-tuned.

Target tourists, not neighbors

The purchase of tobacco, alcohol and cannabis as well as tax-exempt goods are exempt from the measure. Everything else, or almost, will have to submit to it – and this is among other things where the shoe pinches, according to many.

“The principle, I find it correct, underlines Patrice Dansereau, owner of the café-bookstore Nath & Compagnie. But the regulations deserve to be reviewed to be more appropriate. »

In his opinion, the royalty could harm businesses like his, in particular because a visitor does not have to come from very far to have to pay the royalty. A resident of Chandler or Gaspé, for example, will have to pay it. It will be necessary to reside in Percé and present the local citizen card, the B-CITI+, to escape it.

“In my business, my own labor often comes from outside. Each time my employees go to buy a lunch for more than $20, they will have to pay an additional dollar,” complains Mr. Dansereau.

Most of his customers also come from outside Percé, and the owner of one of the few bookstores open year-round in the Gaspé wonders if the fee will discourage them. “The consumer may be tempted to order his book online, from a company that I will not name…”

The municipality could have targeted tourists better, he believes, by focusing its new perception on the hotel and restaurant industries, for example. “Currently, a night at $500 will earn the City a dollar — the same amount as me, when I sell a book at $20. »

He also believes that applying the measure all year round unnecessarily penalizes local businesses and their regular customers. “We do nothing to encourage people to stay open year-round,” emphasizes Mr. Dansereau. According to him, a fee only applied in summer, during peak tourist periods, would be more sensible.

The municipality of Percé did not respond The duty at the time these lines were written.

With Isabelle Porter

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