Bracebridge councillors have agreed to move forward with a new Municipal Accommodation Tax (MAT).
During this week’s general committee meeting, councillors agreed to hire a company to undertake stakeholder consultation, and then inform the Town on the creation of a MAT by-law. Once those results are in, Town staff will be tasked with creating a draft municipal accommodation tax by law and a proposed implementation plan.
The committee voted unanimously in favour of the move.
“I’m thrilled to see it,” said Coun. Brenda Rhodes. “This will allow us to increase promotion and experiences in Bracebridge. When we create events and experiences, it equals heads in beds for accommodation providers. We’re not talking about chump change here.”
A MAT tax is imposed on visitors renting accommodations within a municipality. The rate typically ranges between 3 and 7% of the purchase price.
More than 20 municipalities in Ontario have instituted a MAT tax, including the Towns of Huntsville and Gravenhurst. Huntsville and Gravenhurst’s tax rate has been set at 4%. Of the money collected, a minimum of 50% goes back into areas like promotion and tourism while the Town retains the remaining funds.
Coun. Rhodes cited the Eclipse: Walk with Light as the perfect example of what can be accomplished with extra MAT dollars. Eclipse “Walk with Light” is a popular, interactive sound-to-light forest night walk in Huntsville.
Rhodes conceded that there might be some concern with the term “tax” but said MATs are so commonplace in Ontario now it’s likely unnoticed by most guests.
Staff estimate the Town could generate annual MAT-related revenues (net of collection and administration costs) of approximately $440,000, of which no more than
approximately $220,000 could be retained by the Town for general purposes.
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