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Councillors go after strippers, newlyweds and bus riders to fill city coffers

Starting Jan. 1, it will cost you a dime more to ride a city bus
20170226 Good Morning Sault KA 04
Licence fees are going up for dancers and employees of adult entertainment businesses like Studio 10 Night Club, seen at left in this file photo. Kenneth Armstrong/SooToday

Local strippers will have to peel off a few more bills at City Hall for their mandatory annual licence, as a result of new user fees approved tonight.

Sault Ste. Marie City Council agreed to hike the annual fee 20 per cent to $90 for all burlesque attendants, defined as "any person who, in an adult entertainment parlour, provides services appealing to or designed to appeal to erotic or sexual appetites or inclinations."

While dancers were targeted tonight to bring a little additional cash to city coffers, their bosses were not.

The annual licence fee for owners and operators of adult entertainment establishments will remain unchanged at $2,000, councilors decided.

The fee hikes are part of a city strategy to increase revenues by recovering as much as possible of the cost of municipal services.

Toronto-based Hemson Consulting Inc. was retained to do cost analysis.

"Increasingly municipalities are looking at user fees to help offset the impact of municipal services on property taxes," said Shelley Schell, the city's chief financial officer and treasurer.

Ward 2 Councillor Susan Myers asked why owners and operators of adult entertainment parlours weren't charged more.

City Clerk Malcolm White responded that $2,000 was the historical fee charged in Sault Ste. Marie for such establishments.

It's possible the charge was set by the province, White said, and city staff intend to review all licence fees to determine the historical rationale and whether further tweaks are needed.

"If there's an area where we want to look at increasing licensing, these adult entertainment parlours could be one, because they didn't go up at all," Myers said.

Sault Transit users will also be affected by the new user fees.

Cash fares will rise a dime to $2.85, while monthly passes for adults, seniors and school board users will all go up $1.

Other user-fee hikes approved tonight include the following:

  • marriage licenses will go up four per cent to $130
  • wedding receptions at Bondar Pavilion will now cost $970, up 25 per cent
  • Bondar rentals rise 25 per cent for both commercial and non-profit groups
  • supervision of volunteers at events will increase 16 per cent to $20 an hour
  • a master plumber's licence will gurgle up 25 percent to $2
  • pawnbroker licenses up four per cent to $260
  • amusement arcade licences up six per cent to $265
  • food vendor licences up nine per cent to $245
  • daily slip rentals at Bondar Marina up 22 per cent to $1.65 a foot
  • daily serviced slip rentals at Bellevue Marina up 22 per cent to $1.65 a foot
  • Essar Centre ice rentals will rise as much as 14 per cent for organized youth groups
  • cemetery lots will cost 12 per cent more for adults, with no increase for children
  • cremation lots (urn garden) will rise 25 per cent

Watching high school hockey at the John Rhodes and McMeeken centres will cost more: up six per cent to $3.98 for adults, 14 per cent to $3.54 for students and seniors, and eight per cent to $3.10 for children.

Admission to public swims will rise as little as two per cent for adults to 12 per cent for families, but new multi-visit cards will offer up to 25 per cent off regular prices.

Athletic field rentals will cost four per cent more for most sports, but now that cricket has established a firm footing in the Sault, practise rentals will rise 62 per cent to $64.70 and a new game day fee of $259 will be charged on the sport.

Organizers of elementary and high school track and field meets will also face new fees of $129 and $259 respectively.

The heftiest user fee hikes will be for culverts.

A culvert on a single driveway will cost 114 per cent more at $3,000, while a double entrance driveway will be up 83 per cent to $5,000.

The city will now charge $250 for a culvert coupling, up 257 per cent.

Ward 3 Councillor Matthew Shoemaker tried to have the culvert hikes and high sewer connection increases removed from the document but fellow councilors voted him down.

The user fee increases will take effect Jan. 1.