A tax on hotel stays in North Bay could help fund tourism-related infrastructure projects such the replacement of West Ferris arena, says Coun. Mark King.
Although there’s not been a formal proposal, King says the notion of an accommodations tax was recently discussed during an operational review meeting at city hall.
And, he says, the idea of an added fee for hotel and motel stays may be an option for council to consider as it looks at how to fund projects such as a new twin-pad arena or the future operation of a proposed splash pad in the downtown.
“I see it as a method of providing some support . . . it can’t be solely on the backs of property taxpayers,” said King, of projects that will not only benefit residents, but boost local tourism efforts.
A number of cities have been working to implement a hotel tax since the province passed legislation last spring granting municipalities the power to collect such fees.
That includes Toronto and London, as well as Sudbury, where a four per cent fee on hotel rooms and other overnight accommodations was embraced last month.
The legislation requires municipalities to dedicate at least half of the tax revenue to tourism efforts.
In Sudbury, the tax is expected to generate about $1.6 million a year based on an estimated 2,000 hotel rooms. And it’s been recommended that the Greater Sudbury Community Development Corporation get half of the funding to support the tourism sector, while the other half goes toward the proposed Kingsway event centre.
King says the city does not yet have a financial plan in place for the replacement of the West Ferris arena. And, he says, the project will likely cost somewhere in the range of $30 million. In addition, he says, there will be operational costs for the city associated with a proposed splash pad.
“Where does that money come from and who pays for it?” asks King, suggesting new streams of revenue are needed.
Past efforts for a full buy-in from local hotels and motels for a destination marketing fee to support local tourism efforts have been unsuccessful. But there currently are several local business that are voluntarily charging such a fee to help support Tourism North Bay.
Steve Dreany, who recently took on the director position at the tourism organization, said part of his duties include working to expand such partnerships. He said there are about six local businesses contributing to Tourism North Bay through a destination marketing fee.
Asked about how a city-imposed hotel tax would be received, Dreany said it’s something he will ask potential partners about as he settles into his new position.