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Niagara-on-the-Lake
Wednesday, October 5, 2022
Letter: Unfair accommodation tax should be reconsidered
Lettertotheeditormale

Dear editor:

I have read the article regarding the proposed municipal accommodation tax in the Jan. 6 edition of The Lake Report, “Owner-occupied rentals cited as one solution,” and would like to provide my comments.

First off, there's unfairness of the tax.

As stated in the article, the majority of accommodation providers, namely those with four bedrooms or fewer, are not included. It makes no sense that only some operators must collect the tax. If some have to, then all should.

A well-placed source has said the NOTL Bed & Breakfast Association made a deal with Lord Mayor Betty Disero to exempt operators with four and fewer bedrooms in return for the association not opposing the tax.

Not all of us belong to the BBA and were not consulted. In fact, there seems to have been little discussion with those of us affected.

Secondly, this proposal is being implemented before the town's tourism strategy has been completed. Is this not putting the cart before the horse? Doing this would be akin to counting your golf score before taking your first drive.

Thirdly, why is it that just the accommodation industry is expected to finance the projects that are proposed to be funded by this tax? Do the restaurants, golf courses, theatres and wineries not benefit from tourism?

Fourthly, I have not seen how much money is being designated for the four projects proposed for funding by the levy.

These projects are apparently in the budget but there is no guarantee the expected money raised from this tax will materialize or even cover these projects.

Speaking of the budget, again as pointed out in the article, the town has spent thousands on consultants for various things such as $90,000 for a study about a new firehall and the hiring of a firm to track down illegal short-term accommodation providers (just ask the people who live beside them to identify these offenders) and now $15,000 for a rainbow crosswalk that many residents are not in favour of.

How is this accommodation tax to be administered? Is someone going to be hired to collect and enforce this tax, and at what cost? Perhaps the town should be looking at ways to reduce costs rather than finding ways to spend money.

As a threat to get support, the lord mayor has indicated that if this tax is not implemented, then taxes in general will have to be raised. She has failed to include those of us affected by this tax and instead included those not affected (the BBA). With the recent shutdown again because of the pandemic her timing is poor.

I hope the councilors who opposed this tax will continue to oppose it and that the rest rethink this strategy.

Doug Johnson

NOTL