The District of Kent is holding off on its approval for a hotel tax in the area until businesses share their opinions.
Tourism Harrison is applying to receive the Municipal and Regional District Tax (MRDT) program, more commonly known as the hotel tax, from short term accommodation rentals in the District of Kent, Harrison Hot Springs and Electoral Area C. The hotel tax works as a three per cent sale tax for people staying in hotels, bed and breakfasts, and AirBnBs, and is collected by the provincial government and administered to the designated recipient for tourism marketing purposes.
In the past, the Village of Harrison Hot Springs collected the MRDT funds on behalf of Tourism Harrison, and then passed the money along to the tourism organization. Only hotels in Harrison Hot Springs had the added three per cent tax.
This year, as the MRDT bylaw is coming up for renewal, Tourism Harrison will be applying to collect the funds on their own. They are hoping to expand the tax’s reach to include the District of Kent and Electoral Area C, which includes Harrison Mills and Hemlock Valley, as Tourism Harrison also does marketing for those areas as well.
In order to apply for the MRDT funds, Tourism Harrison needs to get approval from the majority of short term accommodation owners in the affected areas. The organization is currently in the process of that business consultation, and expects to have the results of the consultation by the end of February.
The final application to the province is due on March 31 of this year, and if approved, the tax would take effect in January 2022.
During the District of Kent council meeting on Monday (Feb. 8), councillors discussed the letter from Harrison Hot Springs, which requested Kent’s support in extending the taxable area. Council decided to send a letter deferring their support until local businesses had their say.
Council also talked about the need to have a representative on Tourism Harrison’s board of directors. Having a representative on the board was a key part of Harrison deciding to allow Tourism Harrison to collect the tax funds on their own, as it allowed the village some measure of oversight into the organization’s plans.
“Even though … we’re only 50 rooms compared to their 600, we still are bringing something,” Coun. Susan Spaeti said. “Right now we spend $15,000 for our tourist information centre, so it would be nice that some of the money that’s collected in the District of Kent goes towards tourism costs in the district.”
Pranger agreed, saying that someone on the board would make sure the district was getting the input it needed.