Municipal Accommodation Tax provides new funding source for municipality, further opportunities to promote and develop tourism in Sioux Lookout
Mike Lawrence - Staff Writer
A committee established to administer a recently developed Municipal Accommodation Tax (MAT) has established its terms of reference, which were approved by council, and is now ready to commence its work distributing MAT revenue.
A media release issued by the Sioux Lookout Chamber of Commerce on June 2, notes that, “On Thursday November 23, 2017, the province of Ontario issued the Transient Accommodation Regulation 435/17, which came into force December 1, 2017, and provides the necessary provisions for municipalities across Ontario to implement a Municipal Accommodation Tax (MAT). On June 18, 2021, Sioux Lookout Town Council passed By Law No. 61-21, approving the implementation of a four percent (4%) mandatory MAT applicable on all short-term accommodations under 30 days. The MAT came into effect on January 1, 2020, and applies to all accommodation sold for a continuous period of less than 30 days in a hotel, motel, inn, air bnb, hostel and bed and breakfast.”
The release continues, “The tax will generate funding to promote and develop tourism within Sioux Lookout, 50% of the net revenues will be directed towards a newly established Committee whose sole focus will be the enhancement and promotion of tourism in Sioux Lookout. This organization will direct funds towards tourism promotion and development with a focus on attracting more visitors to the Town through sports and cultural events, new product developments, enhanced attractions, beautification, and outdoor activities. The other 50% of the net revenues will be retained by the Municipality of Sioux Lookout.”
Michelle Larose is the Chief Administrative Officer for the Municipality of Sioux Lookout, and as she explains, “In 2017, the Provincial Governments passed Bill 127, A Stronger, Healthier Ontario. In that Bill, there was a provision for municipalities to impose a Municipal Accommodation Tax to enhance their revenue stream. The tax could be imposed on hotels, motels, bed and breakfasts, air bnb’s to name a few. In 2019 Council passed a by-law to impose the Tax with an implementation date of January 2020. 50% of the revenue collected is to be retained by the Municipality for its own purpose and the other 50% to go towards tourist related activities.”
In order to manage this new revenue stream, Larose went on to note that, “Staff presented a report to Council to recommend entering into an agreement with the Chamber of Commerce for the administration of the funds to be distributed for tourism related activities through a sub committee of the Chamber called the Sioux Lookout Municipal Accommodation Tax Committee. The agreement was passed by by-law 62-21 at the council meeting on June 16, 2021.”
Larose continued, “As part of the agreement the Committee’s membership consists of members; one Accommodation Representative, one Lodge/Outfitter Representative, one Chamber of Commerce Executive, one Municipal Appointee (the Treasurer) and one member of the community at large that has no affiliation with any of the other groups represented on the Committee.”
Larose explained, “The Committee was formed, and the Treasurer presented the terms of reference for the allocation of funds for tourism purposes to Council to obtain approval. The MAT TAX Committee has now commenced their duties to manage and administer the funds, which is 50% of the revenue proceeds that have been collected by the Municipality thus far. “
While original estimates expected the MAT to raise $300,000 annually, the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic and the recent flooding which forced the closure of one area hotel has had a negative impact on the actual funds generated to this point.
The Sioux Lookout Municipal Accommodation Committee (SLMATC) is accepting applications from area organizations interested in accessing a portion of the funding. Interested parties are encouraged to email [email protected] or phone 807-737-1937.