SAINT JOHN, N.B. – Saint John has come under fire over a proposal to generate $1 million through permit fees from heavy vehicles hauling goods in the city amid the fight against Covid-19.
The proposal is contained in a long-term financial sustainability plan presented to the city council last week. The plan, aimed at closing a $10-million budget shortfall, will come up for council debate early next month.
The Atlantic Provinces Trucking Association (APTA) quickly criticized the move, saying more tax is the last thing the industry needs, especially at this time when businesses are suffering under the pandemic.
“Trucking is an essential service, the lifeblood of local economies, and the cornerstone of Atlantic Canada’s Covid-19 response and recovery, which makes the City of Saint John’s consideration to impose this on trucking a monumentally bad idea,” it said.
APTA executive director Jean-Marc Picard said the industry already pays more than its fair share.
“Fuel taxes, excise taxes, small business taxes, licensing fees, property taxes, and the list goes on.”
Trucks move freight to and from the Saint John region, and are key to helping businesses get their goods in and out of the city.
“This will only make Saint John’s businesses less competitive, and have a negative impact on economic growth for the city,” the association said.
“This new proposal will hurt trucking, and costs will be passed on to customers.”
In an email to Today’s Trucking, the city said it is aware of the industry concerns.
“We are listening to those concerns and will meet with industry stakeholders for their feedback so that we can take their observations into account as we move forward,” it said.
“The city will be meeting with the trucking association in the next few days.”
The city added that heavy trucking is also recognized for having a disproportional impact on public costs related to roads and traffic management.