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Huntsville agrees to waive Licence of Occupation fee for Muskoka Good Food Co-operative
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Huntsville agrees to waive Licence of Occupation fee for Muskoka Good Food Co-operative

Posted: 2024-04-01 08:21:20 By: thebay

Huntsville General Committee agreed to waive the Licence of Occupation fee for Muskoka Good Food Coop, in the March 27, 2024, meeting.

General Manager of the Co-op, Kelli Ebbs, explained that having to move their food growing trailers resulted in using 5 feet of the Town’s property.

She added that last year they received the Occupation letter with a fee of $1200, which means they “would have to sell over 600 pounds of lettuce.”

The Co-op approached Town at that time seeking permission to waive the fee and were told they could apply for a small community grant instead and use that to pay it. They did this and now they are onto another year and owe the fee again.

Ebbs explained that they are a not-for-profit that contributes to jobs and food production in the Town.

She suggested that going through the grant process to pay for the fee is “redundant” and that the money could go to another organization instead if the Town would waive the fee.

She added, “It’s a symbolic issue here that the Town isn’t aligning with their Official Plan,” and indicated that it’s supposed to support healthy communities and local food, and the Town’s decision making isn’t aligning with that.

“The purpose of the Official Plan is to develop conditions to develop vibrant communities…places people want to move to,” said Ebb.

The co-op has received another grant to buy another trailer, which means they can grow more food year-round to feed people, especially given “a massive food crisis,” she explained.

“We are doing our best to make food and healthy food that is not sprayed with chemicals available to the community,” she added.

According to Ebb, people have moved to the Town because the existence of the Co-op “means a lot to people” because where their food comes from is important to them. She indicated that the non-profit’s membership is one third of the Town population. “$1million annual revenue that gets reinvested in the community.”

She also invited the Committee on a tour of the facility.

Mayor, Nancy Alcock, said, “I have had that tour of the facility and it’s inspiring.” She expressed appreciation to the Co-op and agreed that if they applied for the grant again it would take away from another organization receiving it.

Councillor, Bob Stone, expressed appreciation for the Co-op and what they do. He said, “Local food is in the forefront of our minds these days and the footprint that we’re making.”

The Committee agreed to waive the fee for the remainder of Council term, from 2022-2026, and staff will report back about the feasibility of the sale of the road allowance, which would eliminate future fees to the Town.