Last Wednesday in Ottawa, the City of North Bay and The Ford World Women’s Curling Championship (2018) event were centre stage at the Canadian Sports Tourism Association annual awards ceremony.  Dave Bennett, Mark Brown and Rick Miller attended the event which recognizes various events and categories that are hosted throughout Canada each year.  The North Bay curling event which captivated and energized our community, was up against two major cities for this prestigious award.

Competing against North Bay were Vancouver, which hosted the 2018 Canadian Tire National Skating Championships and Edmonton, for hosting the 106th Grey Cup and 2018 Grey Cup Festival, in the category for events with budgets greater than $1 million.  Pretty good company to be competing against and although North Bay did not take home first prize in this category, it certainly was a respectable runner up and put this area on the sports tourism map.  Congratulations to the committee and volunteers for bringing out the best in this area and showing the world what we can do as a community, when we work together.

Ottawa was a busy place last week with not only the CSTA awards but as well, the 2019 Federal Budget speech by Finance Minister Bill Morneau.  The 2019 budget contains approximately Twenty-Two Billion Dollars in new spending over the next 6 years and beyond, with dollars being allocated to a number of programs spread across many sectors of our economy.  Many budget analysists have called this budget “a pre-election budget” given the levels of spending announced and the fact that the present government seems to have failed to address previous budget promises for a balanced budget, by 2019. From a Chamber and business perspective, the spending is a great stimulus to many municipalities through the doubling of the Gas Tax, however it falls short of the promised tax reforms to ensure competitiveness.

When we talk about tax reform and competitiveness, it is important to look at the ‘why” this issue is important.  With the Federal and Provincial combined tax rates losing ground to our direct competition south of the border given the recent reductions in combined tax rates in the US.  This is especially troubling in border states where competition between Canada and the US is high.  These reductions have made Canada/Ontario less competitive in the North American market and less attractive for investment in our country.  It will be interesting to see what measures will be tabled in the Provincial Budget on April 11 regarding business taxes, as being “Open for Business” will surely need some relief for that community.  The Federal budget missed that opportunity and it will need to be dealt with soon, if we are to remain competitive.

Congratulations are in order for the North Bay Battalion and New Liskeard’s, Justin Brazeau for his accomplishments this season.  The club has made the playoff’s and are in good position to make an impact on the Niagara Ice Dogs as demonstrated on the weekend, with a convincing win on Saturday night.  Brazeau and crew will be returning home tonight for the third game of the series with each side, taking a win in what is shaping up to be some excellent hockey.  If you want to see some great hockey, get a ticket, pack the arena and be that “seventh man” at the Gardens tonight and Thursday night.

Peter Chirico is the President & CEO of the North Bay & District Chamber of Commerce.