Planning on booking a cottage rental in Midland? The price of your stay may be going up. On June 15, the Midland town council passed a motion to work on the municipal accommodation tax (MAT) but did not yet enact it.
The provincial government introduced the tax in 2017, allowing municipalities to levy a hotel tax and share revenue with not-for-profit tourist organizations. Each community decides the rate, design, administration, and collection system. Orillia, Barrie, Toronto, and Thunder Bay have implemented the MAT and their own bylaw.
If Midland enacts the MAT, short-term renters, such as those who use Airbnb, may have to pay an additional four per cent of their total costs. The decision will be up to the working group and town council.
Midland town staff estimate that the tax could bring in $118,844 in revenue if enacted. This calculation is based on an annual 40 per cent occupancy and a minimum daily hotel rate of $100.
In the first staff report, “based on the average summer nightly rate of $276, with rates ranging from $187 to $401 a night, implementing this tax should have little to no impact on the ability for local accommodations to book rooms.”
Tax discussion with the councillors
Councillors Jim Downer, Beth Prost, Bill Gordon, and deputy mayor Mike Ross voted against the motion. “We are still coming out of this pandemic and flopping like a dead fish trying to revive the economy,” said Gordon. The opposing councillors don’t believe that the hotel and motel community will favour the higher costs, noting that the tax could waste town staff’s time and affect tourism recovery efforts. “If it deters one person from visiting Midland, then we harm our industry,” Ross said.
Councillors Jonathan Main, Carole McGinn, Cher Cunningham, mayor Stewart Strathearn, and chief administrative officer David Denault are in favour of the motion. They want to speak with stakeholders and consider the potential benefits, implications, associated costs, and successes of other municipalities. “This could be an opportunity for our local businesses to make money,” Campbell said.
The next steps include Midland town staff preparing a second report outlining their bylaw recommendations and presenting it to the future MAT working group.