Bed tax coming to Cornwall

(Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston, File)

CORNWALL – By this summer, hotels and motels within the City of Cornwall will be collecting an extra 4 per cent on your stay.

City council approved the implementation of the bed tax Monday night, joining a number of Ontario municipalities, such as Ottawa, Brockville, Kingston and Toronto.

In May 2017, the province gave municipalities the power to levy a tax on accommodations as a new revenue tool.

The city estimates the municipal accommodation tax will generate around a half million dollars a year, which will be directed toward tourism and could lead to a “possible extension of tourism marketing efforts.”

Under the plan, around 45 per cent would go to Cornwall Tourism, another 45 per cent would go to an arms-length corporation, managed by hotel-motel stakeholders, and the final 10 per cent would be administrative costs.

“Have you had consultations with the hotel owners and what have been the results of those consultations?” Murphy asked.

Planning General Manager Mark Boileau said the city had heard from the “larger players” and some felt the 4 per cent was too high. “This is really the norm that we’re seeing in most municipalities that they’re going to the 4 per cent and we felt it was appropriate as well.”

The money would help with Cornwall Tourism’s $180,000 budget to help “augment” the service with marketing and other tourism-related activities, Boileau added.

Economic Development Division Manager Bob Peters said there will be more meetings with hotel and motel owners and outreach to “outline next steps.”

The city still has to iron out other details, such as a time limit on the tax (stays over 30 days in other municipalities are tax exempt) and whether some accommodations, such as bed and breakfasts, could be exempt.

Coun. Bernadette Clement was concerned whether collecting the tax would be a burden on the hotel and motel owners. “I can see the long term benefit and the financial advantage to taxpayers. Hotel owners will not necessarily see that right away. What they’ll see is added paperwork.”

There are nearly 1,200 hotel rooms in Cornwall.

The bed tax is slated to start June 1. It still has to be approved through a city council bylaw.