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City setting accommodation tax

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Guests in Dauphin hotel rooms will soon be paying more for a night’s stay if the City’s plans for an accommodation tax come to fruition.
City council gave first reading to a bylaw allowing for a hotel tax at its regular meeting last night (Nov. 4).
The five per cent tax is intended to support the city’s recreation infrastructure.
“Council has been looking at it since probably, as far back as I could find this was 2001, and it’s always been for various reasons. But now it is for the purpose of funding recreation, both maintenance of our existing and any capital or additions to our offerings,” said city manager Sharla Griffiths.
“We have discovered over the last several years that Dauphin’s recreation offering is an envy of many municipalities, but a lot of our stuff is approaching 20-plus years old and that’s right in the sweet spot of starting to maintain it. And if we maintain it and keep up with the maintenance of all of that recreation, those facilities and all that infrastructure will continue to serve us well. But if not, then we will be behind the eight ball, if you will, and we are going to have to find even more money. So now is the right time to do that.”
The five per cent, per room per night tax is expected to raise in the neighbourhood of $250,000 annually. And while the top priority for the money is recreation infrastructure, there is the ability to fund additions under the active living and transportation umbrella.
“We want to be able to have flexibility with this funding. We know that with the 2020 games coming, we want to make sure that those facilities, if added, can be maintained,” Griffiths said.
“We also are including active living in our, I guess, list of things that we could fund. So active transportation, active living things like bike routes or playgrounds or any kind of offering like that, walking paths, things like that.”
Griffiths hopes the tax will be in place by Jan. 1, 2020, although there is a process to putting the bylaw in place.
First of all, it will have to pass through three readings at two council meetings before being forwarded to the province for approval.
That last part of the process presents the most unknowns, Griffiths said.
“I have been working with the province regarding the details of the bylaw. so we do not expect a lengthy review process or turnaround time for them. That being said (it is) a relatively newly elected or re-elected government and I know that there has been a reorganization of cabinet ministers, so time will tell on that,” Griffiths said, adding an accommodation tax is not new territory for the provincial government and should make the ministerial review routine.
“We are probably one of the last larger urban municipalities in Manitoba to implement this tax.”