The City of Salmon Arm will be seeking the B.C. Government’s approval to implement a two per cent hotel room tax.
Provincial government approval will be based on a Municipal Regional District Business Plan and Application, put together by the Salmon Arm Economic Development Society (SAEDS).
Council supported a recommendation to submit the application to the province, as well as a recommendation to authorize the mayor and corporate officer to execute a municipal regional district tax (MRDT) for a five-year term, and a related bylaw that will see SAEDS administer the MRDT on the city’s behalf.
SAEDS economic development manager Lana Fitt presented the plan to council.
She reported that nine of 10 accommodation properties have signed on in support, and that this represents 99 per cent of available rental properties in the community. This, she said, is well above the provincial requirement of 51 per cent.
There are four guiding principles that form the foundation of the MRDT business plan: that it be “accommodator led” with input and support from broader tourism stakeholders; that it support the implementation of specific local tourism; that it support and expand the work of multiple tourism stakeholder organizations across the Shuswap region; and that it include a collaborative approach, ensuring a strong alignment with strategic plans of partner organizations.
“The vision for the MRDT program is that Salmon Arm and the broader Shuswap region will be recognized as an all-season destination of choice for visitors from around the world,” states the report.
From the time of approval, MRDT revenue for year one is anticipated to be $136,000, with higher returns expected in the subsequent full, four years.
SAEDS’ remuneration for administering the MRDT in the first year will be 12 per cent, or $16,200, of the anticipated revenue.
Coun. Kevin Flynn said the level of support from local hoteliers speaks well of the work done by SAEDS. He called the tax long overdue, and said it would help level the playing field with other communities in the region that already have a similar tax.
“We’re one of the only communities in our area that doesn’t have a tax so we’re missing out on those marketing dollars,” said Flynn. “And I think it’s important to note that it’s not the hoteliers that pay this tax – it’s the people who stay in the hotels, they’re paying it everywhere around us, and they’re reaping the benefits to market competition with us.”
Coun. Louise Wallace Richmond noted the tax would help leverage money the city is already spending on things such as the visitor centre and to support Shuswap Tourism.