Council backs plan for municipal accommodation tax

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City of Brantford councillors are moving forward with plans to introduce a municipal accommodation tax.

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Councillors voted 8-3 in favour of the plan at a Sept. 26 council meeting. The resolution calls for the city to embark on a public consultation campaign.

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In addition, city staff will work to develop a business case supporting the formation of a municipal services corporation. The corporation, acting independently with its own board of directors, would administer the funds collected through the tax.

Both the campaign and the business case are required by provincial regulations. Plans call for the tax to be in place by March 1, 2024.

“This is a tax levied on people who have come to our city for tourism,” Coun. Gino Caputo said. “The majority of cities in Ontario and across North America already have this is place.

“This is something that should have been done years ago.”

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The tax, once implemented, is mandatory and paid by those staying in hotels. It includes bed and breakfasts and Airbnb rentals.

Some establishments, such as university residences, offering short term rentals may be exempt. The tax does not apply to long-term rentals – 30 days or more – for visitors and residents using hotels, motels or other transient accommodation for housing.

Brantford plans to follow the example of other municipalities and put the tax at four per cent which would generate about $824,000 a year in revenue. At least 50 per cent of the tax collected would be turned over to the municipal services corporation to be used to support tourism-related initiatives including promotion.

Coun. Brian Van Tilborg said he doesn’t want people coming to the city to have to pay an extra tax. He wants them to come and enjoy themselves.

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“I won’t be supporting this,” Van Tilborg said. “We’ve got gas taxes, carbon taxes and battery taxes and tax on tax on tax and people are looking for a break.

“Just because other cities are doing it, doesn’t mean that we have to do it. I really don’t think this is the way to go.”

But Coun. Greg Martin, who worked on the municipal accommodation tax plan with Coun. Dan McCreary and city staff, said the tax is much like the development charges developers pay to cover the cost of infrastructure such as roads and water services.

Development charges pay for growth which, in turn, creates more growth, Martin said.

The municipal accommodation tax is something that allows tourism to pay for tourism.

“The accommodation tax will drive additional tourism and revenue for hotels which, in turn helps boost tourism,” Martin said.

McCreary, Martin, Caputo, Mayor Davis and councillors Linda Hunt, Rose Sicoli, Michael Sullivan and John Sless voted in favour of moving forward with the tax, Van Tilborg and councillors Mandy Samwell and Richard Carpenter voted against it.

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