Provincial laws have changed to allow smaller towns to implement accommodation fees for tourism marketing revenue
By Chris Marchand
Dryden City Council examined the idea of a local accommodation tax at Monday’s Committee of the Whole meeting, Feb. 12.
City of Dryden Treasurer Steven Lansdell-Roll explained that provincial regulations came into effect in Dec. 2017 that now allow smaller municipalities to explore the option of a municipal accommodation tax (MAT) if they so wish.
If adopted, unless otherwise exempt, all transient accommodators operating within Dryden’s municipal boundaries would be obliged by law to collect and remit the MAT on all room revenue sold for overnight accommodation.
With no local destination marketing plan in place, Dryden would be required to share 50 per cent of the tax revenues raised (minus administration costs) with one or more eligible not-for-profit tourism entities to be used for the exclusive purpose of promoting tourism.
Possible exemptions to the MAT may be charitable or emergency shelters, tent or trailers sites provided by a campground, accommodations provided by employers, bed and breakfast operations, home-sharing services like AirBnB, or properties with fewer than a predetermined number of rooms.
Early adopters like Ottawa and Toronto have established a MAT rate of 4 per cent.
If the city were to further discuss the prospect, Lansdell-Roll recommended the city embark on engaging other communities to suss out their intentions around a possible MAT, talking to local accommodators who would be affected as well as the public to explore how the revenues could be directed.
“My word of caution would be that you wouldn’t want to apply a rate that impacted the competitive balance of our region,” said Lansdell-Roll. “To be honest, I’m not sure we would want to implement this if other municipalities in our area were not. We don’t want travelers to pass through Dryden to go to a neighbouring community to avoid such a tax.”