Nunavut MLA fights for municipal wish-list
Pat Angnakak pushes for hotel taxes, distracted driver laws
Nunavut mayors have found at least one ally within the territory’s Legislative Assembly.
Iqaluit-Niaqunnguu MLA Pat Angnakak advocated May 28 in the legislature for three resolutions that the Nunavut Association of Municipalities — the body that represents all municipal governments in Nunavut — passed during its annual general meeting last November.
Angnakak tabled a document in the assembly May 26 containing 13 NAM resolutions and talked about three of them during oral question period May 28.
Those three resolutions involve distracted drivers, collecting fines from traffic violations, and the ability of municipalities to raise revenue though hotel room taxes.
Angnakak posed her questions to the minister of Economic Development and Transportation, Monica Ell.
“Mobile devices are becoming a part of daily life,” reads the resolution about distracted drivers, tabled by Angnakak.
That resolution asks,”that Nunavut amend the Motor Vehicles Act to include a provision regarding distracted drivers.”
“I want to take this opportunity to publicly pay tribute to Iqaluit mayor Mary Wilman for introducing this resolution, and to her colleague Jerry Natanine from Clyde River who seconded the resolution. Can the minister confirm when she will be introducing these amendments in the Legislative Assembly?” Angnakak asked.
“It should be some time in the winter, but I’m not sure exactly when it will be,” Ell replied.
The City of Iqaluit already backed a distracted driving bylaw at a 2013 council meeting.
“Every province and territory except Nunavut has a distracted driver law,” the City of Iqaluit’s chief enforcement officer said at that 2013 meeting.
But Nunavut’s capital still doesn’t have a distracted driver bylaw and even if it did, municipalities across the territory struggle to collect the fines associated with bylaw infractions.
“I just find there’s no repercussions for traffic violations,” Coun. Terry Dobbin said at the 2013 meeting.
The second resolution that Angnakak posed questions about in the assembly May 28 also focused on that problem.
“The municipalities have no way of collecting traffic fines or court adjudications,” the NAM resolution says.
The NAM therefore asks that the GN “take up its responsibilities for the enforcement of fines and court-ordered payments… and provide proceeds to the relevant municipalities,” the resolution continues.
“Can the minister describe how the government is working with NAM to address these concerns?” Angnakak asked Ell.
Ell replied that she’s asked her department to look into the matter.
“I know the [Motor Vehicles Act] is old and we will start working on the amendments this year. I’ll have to bring it to the cabinet level and it will move forward from there,” Ell said.
Ell said she’s directed her department to look into all of the NAM resolutions tabled by Angnakak — including the resolution in favour of a hotel tax.
A hotel tax, also called a room tax, would allow municipalities to charge a special tax to visitors staying in local hotels.
“Municipalities need funds each year to support infrastructure development, recreation and transportation,” which are services used by visitors, the resolution says.
The municipalities group resolved to work with Nunavut’s Department of Community and Government Services to “investigate and advance amendments” to the Cities, Towns and Villages Act, as well as the Hamlets Act. Those pieces of legislation would provide the framework for a hotel tax.
“Does the minister support this proposal, yes or no?” Angnakak asked.
“We saw the resolutions that came out of the NAM [annual meeting]. I have forwarded those to my department and the department will be looking into those resolutions,” Ell said.