Tourism operator wants level playing field

Sherry Martell
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BALMORAL MILLS - A North Shore tourism operator believes legislation governing his industry is flawed and useless.

Graham Johnson, owner of Balmoral Farm Vacation in Balmoral Mills, said he launched an official complaint with the RCMP Thursday against unlicensed tourism rentals, Island View Cottages, aiming to bring about a change in the Tourist Accommodations Act.

BALMORAL MILLS - A North Shore tourism operator believes legislation governing his industry is flawed and useless.

Graham Johnson, owner of Balmoral Farm Vacation in Balmoral Mills, said he launched an official complaint with the RCMP Thursday against unlicensed tourism rentals, Island View Cottages, aiming to bring about a change in the Tourist Accommodations Act.

"This is an old issue," said Johnson.

"This is a chronic problem."

Johnson said he was prompted to file the complaint after reading a story in a local newspaper where an official with the Department of Tourism indicated RCMP had the authority to investigate complaints about unlicensed tourism properties. RCMP are currently working with Department of Tourism Culture and Heritage to review the matter.

A determination must be made whether the RCMP is the appropriate body to investigate issues under the Tourism Act or if the matter should be referred to tourism officials.

Island View Cottages, in Lunenburg County, is owned in part by Finance Minister Michael Baker, along with his brother Peter and brothers William and Graham Gerhardt.

Johnson has filed more than a dozen complaints with the Department of Tourism during the past five years with regard to unlicensed operations.

He feels it puts operators who are willing to abide by stringent regulations at a disadvantage as they incur higher operating costs because of the conditions governing client comfort and safety.

"The frustration with me over the years is you can't have a double standard," he said.

Johnson estimates about 50 per cent of accommodations in the province are not licenced, and do not report statistics, rendering tourism reports inaccurate.

"We comply with the law because we want to do things right. There is nothing in the act to enforce the law."

Organizations: RCMP, Department of Tourism Culture and Heritage

Geographic location: North Shore, Lunenburg County

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