One of the city’s most controversial new taxes came into effect on Canada Day.
But after more than a decade of tiresome council debates, political fence-sitting and even an attempt by a former mayor to stifle debate on the issue, Brandon will finally join the ranks of other North American cities that have introduced an accommodation tax.
It’s an alternative revenue source that will have little impact on residents of Brandon, but will help the city in many ways.
As of July 1, a $3 (plus GST) charge will be imposed on overnight hotels stays within the city of Brandon.
City council approved the tax bylaw in the spring to help “support event acquisition, event retention, and/or capital upgrade initiatives in support of event acquisition and retention,” the city said in a release this week.
Approval of the bylaw followed nearly a year of study by an accommodation tax task force. Chair of the committee was Coun. Shawn Berry (Linden Lanes), while committee members consisted of representatives from city council, city administration, Economic Development Brandon, Brandon Riverbank Inc., Brandon First, the chamber of commerce, as well as various representatives from the local hotel industry.
A series of meetings with Brandon hoteliers was held earlier this month to ensure that all hotels will be collecting and reporting the revenues in a consistent way, the city says.
Hoteliers will be required to collect the tax at the point of sale and remit the appropriate revenue and documentation to the city on a quarterly basis.
There are exemptions to the tax — where the purchase price is $30 or less per night; accommodations are provided to patients or residents of a hospital, personal care home, or residential care facility; or accommodations provided to patients and/or the family of patients while attending for medical care and treatment, or accommodation supplied for a person undertaking an apprenticeship or trade certification, to name but a few — but basically, if you come to Brandon and stay in a hotel, you’re going to have to fork over three loonies.
Whether Brandon should have a hotel tax — and how much money such a tax should collect — has been bandied about by councils since 2001, with the most recent discussion beginning last May.
Several years ago, during the initial discussions over the creation of an accommodations tax, the Brandon Sun suggested that it was unfair for property owners in this city to pay for every service their municipal government provides, especially as Brandon attracts thousands of visitors every year for all sorts of events — from the biennial Association of Manitoba Municipalities annual general meeting to the Provincial Exhibition’s Royal Manitoba Winter Fair.
Many other nearby cities long ago decided to implement such a tax, with communities like Winnipeg applying a five per cent tax on accommodations in 2008, and Minot and Grand Forks in North Dakota charging up to two per cent on hotel and motel stays.
Simply put, Brandon was long overdue.
We are pleased that this council was able to get the tax implemented and look forward to tracking how the money is spent and will watch closely to see what the positive effects it ultimately has for Brandon.
And we will be keeping a close eye on how this tax money is collected and used.
Ultimately, we believe that retail and accommodation businesses will see a long-term benefit from the collection of the accommodation tax, and the use of these reserve funds to attract new events.
And we’re just pleased that it’s finally here after so much unnecessarily drawn-out and acrimonious debate.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition July 4, 2012