Rural residents, farmers, and businesses on the outskirts of Sarnia won’t be forced to pay for bus services, following calls by the Chamber to tax only those who have the opportunity to use bus services.

At Monday’s meeting, Council considered removing the current “transit levy” and requiring all Sarnia tax payers to share in the cost of conventional bus services. This would have included taxpayers who do not have the service and cannot access it near their homes or places of business.

After consulting members, the Chamber wrote to Council expressing their concerns, “until conventional service is made available everywhere, it is only a public good for those who have the opportunity to access it.”

The Chamber’s input was part of a wider public consultation held over the summer. The City had issued a survey to which 400 people responded, with 63% objecting to the changes being proposed.

In the end, Council decided to maintain status quo and open up the discussion to other options.

Chamber CEO Shirley de Silva said instances like this, where the Chamber facilitates discussions in response to proposed legislation that could impact business, is part of what the organization does on a regular basis.

“Our members are the lifeblood of the community, providing the essential tax base,” she said. “We believe by acting collectively, we can get our message to those who write the laws so that they are aware of how our members would be affected.  In this case, they have listened.”