A new hotel tax could soon be imposed in the capital after territorial government gave municipalities the green light last week.
Bill 18: An Act to Amend the Cities, Towns and Villages Act was passed by the NWT legislature last week allowing municipalities in the territory the option to impose a tax of up to four per cent on tourist accommodations.
“This Bill amends the Cities, Towns and Villages Act to authorize councils to: impose a tax on tourist accommodations; and to pass bylaws allowing property owners to finance, through local improvement charges, local improvements that are substantively energy efficiency works or renewable energy works,” states the bill.
The bill also outlines a number of exemptions including stays longer than 30 days and on accommodations that cost less than $20 a night. Other exemptions include government workers on travel duty and stays that are for medical travel among others.
Before being officially passed the bill had public support from the City of Yellowknife, the Yellowknife Chamber of Commerce and the hotel industry. However their were concerns raised about the number of exemptions included in the bill during public consultations in September with MLAs.
“Each exemption affects the overall amount to be collected, which in turn greatly affects the number of dollars that can be applied to the city’s tourism marketing efforts,” out-going Mayor of Yellowknife Mark Heyck told a committee of MLAs. “Too many exemptions could affect the economic viability of the accommodation levy.”
Last week, Mayor-Elect Rebecca Alty voiced her support for the levy in a Facebook post.
“I’m hoping that Bill 18 (an act to amend the Cities, Towns and Villages Act) gets passed by MLAs next week,” stated Alty’s post. “To be consistent with other hotel levies across the country, we shouldn’t add any further exemptions to the Hotel Levy. Hopefully, ML’s will pass the Bill as is next week.”
The new city council will first be able to discuss imposing the levy as soon as next week when they are swore-in on Nov. 5.
Tourism in the territory is growing as the GNWT recently announced the 2017/2018 season broke record numbers with 110,000 visitors spending $203 million dollars in the territory.