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Des PME canadiennes se méfient de la taxe sur le carbone

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Le sondage en ligne a été mené auprès de 3527 membres de la Fédération canadienne de l’entreprise indépendante (FCEI) dans les quatre provinces – la Saskatchewan, le Manitoba, l’Ontario et le Nouveau-Brunswick – qui devront se plier au système de tarification fédéral du carbone à compter du 1er avril.

Le groupe s’est d’ailleurs fermement opposé au plan de taxe fédérale sur le carbone, craignant qu’il ne génère trop de coûts pour les PME. En fait, plus des deux tiers des entrepreneurs interrogés n’appuient aucun programme de tarification du carbone.

Ottawa affirme que 90 % des recettes de la taxe sur le carbone perçues seront reversés aux ménages de chacune des quatre provinces. Les consommateurs obtiendront de loin la plus grande part parce que le gouvernement s’attend à ce qu’ils paient en fin de compte la plupart des nouveaux coûts refilés par les entreprises.

Les résultats du sondage de la FCEI, mené en novembre, laissent supposer que la plupart des PME ne seront pas en mesure de leur transférer les nouveaux coûts. En d’autres termes, ces entreprises subventionneront le programme de rabais pour les ménages, a indiqué le rapport.

Environ 80 % des personnes interrogées ont déclaré qu’il ne serait pas facile de facturer les coûts à leurs clients.

Le sondage révèle par ailleurs que 55 % des personnes interrogées ne prévoyaient pas transférer les coûts supplémentaires, tandis que 25 % d’entre elles ne pourraient en transférer que 25 %.

Des conclusions inquiétantes, selon la FCEI

« Ces conclusions devraient être très inquiétantes pour les décideurs publics », indique le rapport, qui répète également que la FCEI craint que la taxe sur le carbone n’arrive la même année où les primes du Régime de pensions du Canada des entreprises commencent à augmenter.

« Cela signifie que les petites entreprises seront obligées de trouver les ressources pour payer la taxe de l’entreprise elle-même, ce qui risque de se faire au détriment des salaires, des emplois ou de la croissance future des entreprises. »

La taxe sur le carbone imposée par les libéraux a suscité un intense débat politique dans tout le pays et devrait devenir un enjeu de campagne clé lors des élections fédérales d’octobre.

Le gouvernement libéral a soutenu que la pollution coûte déjà beaucoup plus cher à la population canadienne, car les coûts associés aux phénomènes météorologiques liés aux changements climatiques ont grimpé à plus d’un milliard de dollars par an. Les libéraux croient que la tarification du carbone, qui existe depuis des années dans des provinces comme la Colombie-Britannique, le Québec et l’Ontario, est l’un des meilleurs moyens de réduire les émissions.

Le plan d’action fédéral sur les changements climatiques comprend également des efforts pour élaborer des normes relatives aux carburants propres, créer de nouveaux codes de construction écoénergétiques et éliminer progressivement la production d’électricité à partir de charbon.

Les conservateurs de l’opposition ont à plusieurs reprises qualifié le plan libéral de « ponction fiscale » qui nuirait aux résultats des petites entreprises et des familles, supprimerait des emplois et rendrait le pays moins compétitif. À l’avenir, préviennent les conservateurs, les projets de loi sur la taxe sur le carbone ne feront que prendre de l’ampleur.

Plusieurs dirigeants provinciaux sont également devenus des opposants féroces au programme fédéral.

Le régime sera appliqué à la Saskatchewan, au Manitoba, à l’Ontario et au Nouveau-Brunswick, car ils ne disposent pas de leur propre système de tarification du carbone.

Un plan fédéral pour aider les PME

Ottawa a annoncé que les 10 % restants des revenus générés par la taxe sur le carbone seraient consacrés à un programme destiné à aider les organisations, telles que les écoles, qui ne peuvent pas répercuter les coûts sur des prix plus élevés. Une portion de cette partie – d’une valeur d’environ 1,5 milliard dollars – sera également utilisée pour aider les PME à s’adapter à la tarification du carbone au cours des cinq prochaines années, a déclaré le gouvernement.

Ottawa n’a pas encore précisé les détails de cet élément de son plan.

Le rapport note que certains grands pollueurs industriels paieraient via un système séparé qui allégerait quelque peu les secteurs fortement exposés à la concurrence étrangère. Les petites entreprises, ajoute-t-il, ne bénéficient pas du même soulagement.

La FCEI demande à Ottawa de limiter les répercussions sur les petites entreprises, notamment en leur garantissant qu’une proportion égale des revenus de ces entreprises leur sera renvoyée.

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Virtual farmer’s market comes to Ottawa

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Ottawa first-ever virtual farmer’s market has begun delivering food from local farms straight to people’s homes.

Farm to Hand is making it easier for people who cannot access their local farmer’s markets to find local, fresh organic food by bringing ordered food right to their doors. 

“The difference between us and the farmers market is really just the convenience and the on-demandness,” Sean Mallia, the co-founder of the business, told CBC Radio’s In Town and Out.

“[Often times a] person wants to make the purchase but they don’t have the time on Saturdays to go to the farmers market. Everyone wants to eat local … so when it’s easy for them to do it, it just happens.” In Town and Out No time to drive to the farmer’s market but really want to eat local?

Connecting farmers with people 

The online platform allows farmers to list all their own products, and buyers can have the goods delivered. 

“What we really are trying to do is build that connection between farmer and consumer,” Mallia said. “When people fill up a cart … they’re not just filling a cart full of food, they’re filling a cart full of farmers and farms and their stories.”

Mallia said the aim is to connect people to the “vibrant food ecosystem” around them, and to local support farmers.

The virtual market is currently limited to the Ottawa area as a pilot project, but Mallia, 21, said the company is looking to expand.

“[We chose Ottawa because] Ottawa really cares. Ottawa really thinks about local [food] and thinks about sustainability,” he said. “It just made sense to come out of Ottawa.”

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Denley: Stonebridge and Mattamy show compromise is possible over development in Ottawa

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In Ottawa, development proposals too often end up in acrimony and trips to the provincial planning tribunal. That’s why it’s so refreshing to see Mattamy Homes and residents of the south Nepean suburb of Stonebridge work together to resolve a dispute in a way that’s likely to lead to a victory for both sides.

A little over a year ago, Mattamy created an uproar in the golf course community when it announced a plan to build 158 new homes on golf course lands and alter the Stonebridge course to make it shorter and less attractive to golfers. To residents, it looked like the first step in a plan to turn most, or all, of the course into housing.

It’s easy to see why residents were upset. When people pay a premium for a lot backing onto a golf course, there is certainly an implication that the lot will continue to back onto a golf course, but without a legally binding guarantee, it’s no sure thing.

Mattamy’s situation was understandable, too. This is a tough time to be in the golf course business in Ottawa. There are too many courses and not enough golfers so it’s no surprise that golf course owners would find the idea of turning a course into a housing development to be attractive, doubly so when the golf course is owned by a development company.

This is a tough time to be in the golf course business in Ottawa. There are too many courses and not enough golfers so it’s no surprise that golf course owners would find the idea of turning a course into a housing development to be attractive.

In the face of the local opposition, Mattamy withdrew its development application. When things cooled down, the company, the neighbours and the city started to work together on finding a solution that would satisfy everyone.

With the city-sponsored help of veteran planning consultant Jack Stirling, they came up with an unusual idea that will still let Mattamy develop its desired number of homes, in exchange for a promise to operate the course for at least 10 years and redesign it so that it remains attractive to golfers.

At the end of the 10 years, Mattamy can sell the course to the community for $6 million. To raise the money, the community working group is proposing a special levy to be paid by Stonebridge homeowners starting in 2021. The amount will range from $175 a year to $475 a year, depending on property values.

If the deal is approved by a majority of homeowners, Mattamy gets its development and a way out of the money-losing golf business. Homeowners get certainty about no future development. They can choose to keep the course going or retain the 198 acres as green space. It’s not a cheap solution, but it keeps their community as it is and preserves property values.

If a majority of homeowners backs the deal, both the levy and redevelopment will still need to be approved by the city, something scheduled for late this fall.

Stonebridge Community Association president Jay McLean was part of the working group that prepared the proposal and he’s pleased with the outcome. The community’s number one goal was preserving green space, and the deal will accomplish that, he says. Mattamy division president Kevin O’Shea says the deal “gives the community the certainty they are looking for.”

As useful as this deal could be for Stonebridge residents, it doesn’t provide a template to resolve a somewhat similar dispute in Kanata North, where the owner of the Kanata Lakes golf course wants to work with a group of local developers to replace the course with housing. In Kanata, a longstanding legal agreement saying the community has to have 40 per cent open space strengthens residents’ situation. In Stonebridge, there was no legal impediment to developing the whole course.

Golf course communities have become an anachronism in a city intent on intensifying within the urban boundary. Redeveloping those lands for housing is in sync with the city’s planning goals, but it’s not politically saleable to homeowners who thought they had a deal. If it goes ahead, the Stonebridge plan shows there is a reasonable middle ground.

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City eyes five big themes for Ottawa’s new official plan

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As Ottawa maps out its future for the next 25-plus years, city staff propose focusing on five major areas, including the places we live and the ways we move around the capital.

A staff report to the city’s planning committee lays out five themes for future public consultations, before city council finalizes the plan.

1. Growth Management: City staff say Ottawa should focus on building up, rather than out. Staff also suggest the city provide direction on the type of new housing developments, rather than focusing on the number of units in a development, to encourage a wider variety of housing types.

2. Mobility: Staff say the city should encourage active transportation — like walking and cycling — and transit use by better co-ordinating land use and transportation planning. The report also encourages designing streets to better accomodate pedestrians and cyclists, as well as improving connections to the O-Train and Transitway.

3.  Urban and Community Design: Because Ottawa is a major city and the nation’s capital, staff say the design of our city’s buildings and skyline should be a higher calibre to reflect that status. Staff also suggest the city provide high-level direction for better designed parks and public spaces.

4. Climate, Energy and Public Health: Staff say residents’ health must be foundational to the city’s new official plan, with policies contributing to creating more inclusive, walkable, and sustainable communities.

5. Economic Development: Because much of Ottawa’s employment is knowledge-based, the city suggests those employment spaces could be better integrated into neighbourhoods and along main streets and transit nodes, instead of being isolated in business parks. City staff also suggest the city encourage more business incubation and identify opportunities to increase local food production.

The city’s new official plan will map out the city’s growth to 2046. The five themes and the plan’s high-level policy direction will go before the city’s planning committee, next week.

Public consultation and fine-tuning is expected to happen before city council approves the final version of the new official plan in 2021.

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