The new Hotel Tax that has been discussed at city council meetings for the past few months has finally been approved.

Soon, anyone renting a hotel room in Timmins will be paying a 4 per cent municipal accommodation tax. The tax applies to hotels, motels, cottages and other short-term accommodations in Timmins, including AirBnBs. The tax does not apply to campsites and campgrounds, or college and university residences.

The new tax will be implemented on May 1st. It’s unclear yet how the funds will be distributed. This will be determined later with a governance model.

At the city council meeting on Tuesday, Mayor George Pirie said the city will work with all affected parties to make sure distribution is done properly.

“The date that will be in the bylaw is May 1st,” he said, “[…] We’ll work with all of the partners in relation to their feasibility to get it done by that date. The important thing is to get it passed and then begin the process of working with all of our partners to make sure it works correctly.  We’ve made that commitment in previous meetings with the partners and we’ll fulfill that commitment.”

There are some last minute concerns about the tax and its governance.

At Tuesdays council meeting, Councilor Andrew Marks asked to slow down the passing of the bylaw to ensure it’s being properly introduced into the community. The Timmins Chamber of Commerce also asked council to cap the tax at four per cent and to include businesses paying into it in its eventual distribution.

Mayor Pirie says 50 per cent of the legislated amount of the tax profits will go to tourism.

“It may be 50 per cent, it may be 100 per cent in some years,” Pirie said, “it depends exactly on the presentations that we receive before council that are going to want funding through the application of that tax. […] The other 50 per cent can be used by the city as it sees fit. But the commitment that we have made is to advance tourism in this city.”

Previous studies that were presented to council last year saw a possible $800,000 to $1 million in total additional revenues. Pirie says Guy Lamarche, head of Tourism Timmins, is working with those numbers.

Pirie says they are still working out how they money will be spent based on a governance structure, but he says they are prepared to hear presentations from a number of tourism sites.

“We’ll have presentations from Kamiskotia to Connaught,” he said, “and there will be a ranking and rating system in place that reflects the application of funds as its directly related to increasing overnight accommodation.”

Timmins CAO Dave Landers says they are looking at a variety of approaches they are looking at on how to spend the funds.

“There’s a variety of approaches we’ve seen from across Ontario,” Landers said,” and we’ve looked at most of them. Some of them see a not-for-profit organization working directly for council to distribute those funds, Others are given a mandate on how council expects those funds to be treated in a strategic manner to fulfill the obligations and the commitments of council in terms of what strategic tourism investments would be.”

Landers says the goal is to have a rough draft of the governance by the end of June, socialize it with city council for input and then move forward for approval in early fall.


–With files from Timmins Today

Filed under: Local News