City fee hike wallops Ottawa snow plow contractors

Ottawa’s plow operators say they’ve been snowed under by a massive hike in the city’s licensing fees.

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License renewal packages started arriving by mail Wednesday, outlining an increase of an additional $93 per company license, plus an extra $3 per vehicle in each company’s fleet.

“It was a bit of a shock for all of us,” said Kent Peddie, who chairs the Ottawa Snow Contractors’ Association.

He said no one was consulted before the license fees were raised from $227 to $320 per year – a 29 per cent increase. Each vehicle will now also cost $25 to license, up from $22 last year – a hike of 12 per cent.

In real dollars, it’s not much for most of the nearly 400 licensed contractors who make their living clearing private driveways and parking lots, Peddie said.

But it’s a massive percentage increase for private businesses when city council has committed to an annual two per cent tax cap for everything else, he said.

“This is a tax of a different name,” Peddie said.

Bylaw chief Roger Chapman said in an email the higher fees should offset the increasing cost of enforcement. He said the new fees were approved as part of the 2016 budget, and members of the public were free to comment on the changes as part of that process.

Plow operators got some heat last winter for dumping huge snow piles on city streets and sidewalks, something roads manager Luc Gagné called an “epidemic” at the time.

Transportation committee asked the province to allow the municipality to increase the dumping fine from $105 to $500 when plows are caught leaving messes behind for city crews to clean up.

This article originally appeared in Metro News.