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N.L. government seeking solution to controversial iceberg tax

H2O's trip from berg to glass is a now a more expensive journey.
H2O's trip from berg to glass is a now a more expensive journey.

Following protests from small businesses across Newfoundland and Labrador, the provincial government is working to resolve a controversial iceberg tax. 

The tax, an annual water-use charge for iceberg harvesters, was a cool minimum of $5,000.

Introduced in Budget 2016 and put into effect on Oct. 1, 2016, the tax is in addition to a $4,000 fee for a five-year licence. That licence fee was also drastically affected by Budget 2016, doubling from $2,000.

Small businesses that harvest iceberg water say that it is a victory.

"It's a feel good story for the small business owners of Newfoundland and Labrador," said Steve Ciccolini, vice president of Canadian Iceberg Vodka.

The company melts and stores icebergs harvested off Newfoundland at a renovated storage facility in Port Union. Product is then shipped to a blending and bottling facility in St. John's.

Ciccolini said the results came after harvesters banded together to lobby against the tax.

"All of the iceberg-harvesting licence holders banded together … Danny Bath from Auk Island Winery in Twillingate was sort of spearheading this whole thing, and we owe Danny a big thanks,” he said.

In the end, Ciccolini said that cooler heads prevailed, as government is currently working on resolving the tax issue.

Ciccolini said the tax would have been an expensive detriment to the business.

"It’s $5,000 less we have to invest in our business and promote and grow our brand, and  in turn create prosperity in the province and jobs and all that good stuff that goes along with it,” he said.

"We've been investing in the province, and you don’t want to hinder that by slapping a punitive tax on anybody.”

Ciccolini says the company hires approximately 50 people within the province. 

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