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County considers Municipal Accommodation Tax

By Celina Ip

Submitted photo
Incorporated in 1861, the County of Renfrew is made up of 17 lower tier municipalities.

Submitted photo Incorporated in 1861, the County of Renfrew is made up of 17 lower tier municipalities.

Renfrew County Council and the Ottawa Valley Tourist Association have begun discussions about introducing the new Municipal Accommodation Tax (MAT).

 

New provincial legislation that came into effect in December allows cities to impose a four per cent tax on hotels, motels and other places where visitors stay, with the proceeds split between the municipality and the local tourism entity.

Known as the Municipal Accommodation Tax (MAT), several Ontario municipalities – including Ottawa, Niagara Falls, Toronto and Mississauga – have already motioned in favour the new legislation.

Following the lead of those major cities, Windsor and London recently voted in favour of a four per cent transient accommodation tax this past February.

On April 10, during the County of Renfrew’s Development and Property Committee meeting, county councillors and staff discussed the new legislation and whether or not it would be beneficial within the region’s municipalities.

“With the municipal accommodation tax, you’d book a hotel room and you’d pay an extra percentage of a tax and that tax would go towards promoting and marketing the area,” said Craig Kelley, director of development and property within the County of Renfrew. “So many other Ontario municipalities have already voted in favour of it and it’s become a revenue generator for tourism in their areas.”

Before council comes to a decision, the Ottawa Valley Tourist Association (OVTA) will be engaging in several discussion on the subject and share their report and conclusions with council in the coming weeks.

If the MAT is introduced, Renfrew County will have development charges on new construction projects, but also a transient accommodation tax on hotel stays in the community.

“It's a tough decision as there's some people that think 'well people won’t rent rooms because of an extra charge' but we already do when we go to these larger centres likes Toronto or Ottawa and stay at their hotels,” said Kelley. “And the tax would come back to us and serve as a tourism fund – supporting local tourism marketing, programs and projects within Renfrew County. It's just another revenue tool that's available to us and that’s why we're examining what the options are.”

cip@postmedia.com



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