Regina city council votes to reduce tax on movie theatre tickets
Regina City Council voted in favour of reducing the amount of tax placed on movie theatre tickets with the idea of scrapping the tax completely by 2024.
A 10 per cent amusement tax is placed on commercial cinema admission fees. Council voted to slash the tax in half to five per cent.
“Last week at executive it was acknowledged that we have to bring it down,” said Mayor Sandra Masters.
However, councillors stopped short of approving the bylaw amendment at Wednesday’s council meeting.
The bylaw needed unanimous approval to pass in its third reading. Counc. Bob Hawkins was the sole vote against the bylaw.
Council will vote on the bylaw amendment at their next meeting on Oct. 12. Once the bylaw passes, the amusement tax will drop to five percent.
Regina and Winnipeg are the only two cities in Canada to have an amusement tax on movie theatres, making cinemas in both municipalities some of the highest taxed theatres in the country.
“We have been writing the province and the city for six months on this issue,” said Michael Paris, a member of the Movie Theatre Association of Canada.
“Every incremental cost impacts the ability of people crossing the threshold into the theatre. We need to remain a competitive environment to continue to get film with our partners in distribution but at the end of the day we need people in our locations.”
In the 2022-23 provincial budget, the Saskatchewan government approved a six per cent PST expansion on recreational activities including concerts, sporting events and movie theatre tickets beginning Oct. 1.
Even when council passes the bylaw and lowers the amusement tax to five per cent, the city’s cinemas will still face the highest amount of taxes among their Canadian counterparts at 16 per cent.
If all things continue to plan, Masters said the amusement tax will be eliminated on Jan. 1, 2024.
“In the meantime, we may look at expanding it to (other tickets) to understand whether or not it’s a funding source for tourism and events,” she said.
“We do not have a lot of funding sources other than a mill rate increase, which is very restrictive."
INFLATIONARY INCREASES TO LEISURE PASSES
Council voted in favour of increasing leisure service fees across the city.
Administration recommended an “inflationary increase” based on the Consumer and Municipal Price Indexes to service and admission fees for sport, culture, golf and recreation facilities in Regina.
The city has not addressed recreation fees since 2018 when council approved admission costs through to the end of 2020.
“Recreation services are now returning to near pre-pandemic levels and the costs of providing recreation services are increasing,” according to a city report.
“The proposed increase will assist in maintaining cost recovery levels while ensuring that prices remain affordable for Regina residents.”
Council approved a two per cent inflationary increase in 2023 and a three per cent increase in both 2024 and 2025.
“The proposed fee increase ensures cost recovery levels will remain relatively stable, customer impact will be minimized, and consistency with other providers and municipalities will be maintained,” the report stated.
For example, a one-month family leisure pass will cost $107.68 as of January 2023. The price will rise to $110.92 in January 2024 and $114.25 in January 2025. Those prices do not include taxes.
The city will continue to offer an affordable access program for residents who experience financial barriers to accessing recreational services.
According to administration, the fee increases will bring in approximately $675,000 in new revenue over three years.
MINIMUM PARKING REQUIREMENTS STAY STATUS QUO FOR NOW
Parking continues to be a controversial topic in the city with lengthy council discussions about apartment parking lots proving to be no different.
After several reports, along with requests for more data, city council is no further ahead in its decisions around minimum parking stall requirements.
Regina’s current bylaw requires one parking stall per unit in multi-unit, apartment style buildings in suburban areas.
At Wednesday’s meeting, council discussed a supplemental report that stems from an initial report requested in January 2021.
The report outlines potential implications for three minimum parking scenarios in suburban areas. The scenarios are:
- Maintaining current minimum parking requirements of one stall per dwelling unit
- Eliminating minimum parking requirements
- Increasing minimum parking requirements from one to 1.5 stalls per dwelling unit
The report looked into national parking trends as well as demand at two different apartment locations in Harbour Landing and the Greens neighbourhood. City workers performed on-site visits at these locations. One site visit took place during working hours on a weekday and the other took place on a weekend
Administration did not find parking issues from the study and reported that there was “ample availability and no obvious illegal parking, although less available during the weekends.”
Counc. Lori Bresciani questioned why administration did not perform site visits during evening hours when more people would be home from work.
Bresciani made an amendment asking administration to file another report that looks at the implications to increase parking requirements for apartments in suburban areas based on proximity to transit, unit type and visitor parking requirements.
“I have family who wants to visit me. They can’t park anywhere,” Bresciani said.
“Parking is an essential piece of how we live.”
Evan Lascue, vice-president of planning for Avana Developments, spoke against an increase to parking requirements.
He would like to see developers allowed to determine their own parking requirements based on street parking availability and access to transit in the area.
Lascue said it is an “insufficient use of land” if parking stalls sit unused, even if they are for visitors.
Councs. Andrew Stevens, Cheryl Stadnichuk and Shanon Zachidniak voted against Bresciani’s amendment.
Stadnichuk and Stevens both want to eliminate parking stall minimums and leave it up to developers to decide.
In 2019, council voted to reduce minimum parking requirements from 1.5 stalls to one stall per unit.
According to administration’s supplemental report, not enough time has passed to fully assess the results of reducing the minimum parking from 1.5 stalls to one stall.
The report added there is very little data in North America that shows the implications of eliminating minimum parking requirements. Re-instating minimum parking requirements from one to 1.5 stalls would contradict current North American trends and increase housing costs, the report said.
Bresciani’s amendment passed. Administration is expected to report back to council in Q2 of 2023.
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