Sooke Council has agreed to allocate $15,000 to the Sooke Region Tourism Association (SRTA) to contract an external tourism consultant to draft a Five Year Strategic Business Plan, initiating considerations for a hotel tax to be implemented in Sooke. Should Sooke decide to go ahead and implement a hotel tax, this document would be central to the submission.
The hotel tax, officially known as the Municipal and Regional District Tax (MRDT), is a tax paid by visitors to local hotels. The revenue would be used to fund for tourism marketing initiatives. Councillor Kevin Pearson suggested it could provide as much as $180,000 per year.
The standard municipal rate for the hotel tax is 2%, though it can be increased to 3%. This rate would be added on top of other taxes charged for accomodation.
According to Lee Boyko, a member of SRTA who presented to Council, the resulting document would put a contract in front of the people, giving them the information they need to make an informed decision. The matter would again come before Council, and it would require approval from Council, the CRD, and the stakeholders.
The application process requires the approval of 51% of the stakeholder properties containing four-and-more rooms and 51% of those rooms, who will be collecting the taxes. With the newest regulations imposed on the hotel tax, all sales with online accommodation platform units (VRBA, Air B&B etc) and other properties with less than four rooms will also be required to collect tax.
The only exemptions under the new rules will be for taxable accommodation providers with:
- revenues of less than $2,500 in previous 12 months; or
- low cost accommodations who charge less than $30/d or $210/week (except for units listed on an online accommodation platform); or
- long stay accommodations of continuous stays of 27 days or more.
The new rules also allow for a portion of the funds from the tax to be used for affordable housing (if so desired by the applicant).
At the present time, the hotel tax is only being considered by the District of Sooke. Mike Hicks, the CRD Director for the Juan de Fuca Electoral Area, would like to see it further refined.
“I attended a meeting in the spring where the BC government official instructed the Sooke business community and Sooke council attendees that it was possible for some accommodation provides to collect hotel tax and leave out those providers opposed to the tax collection,” wrote Hicks to SPN on the matter. “I suggested, at that meeting that the Provincial government reduce their boundary to include those three properties that had expressed their interest (Sooke Harbour House, Sooke Resort, and the Prestige) and exclude Sooke’s five smaller B&Bs. Hopefully Council will adopt this plan.”
Hicks was not at the Council meeting; his input was obtained by SPN in addition to the Council meeting report.
Present at the Council meeting were Mayor Maja Tait, and Councillors Ebony Logins, Brenda Parkinson, Kevin Pearson, Rick Kasper,
Kerrie Reay, and Bev Berger.
Also discussed at the August 13 meeting:
- Sooke Program of the Arts works on memorial plaques, transit photography, crosswalk art and more
- Owner of Burnside House applies for rezoning from General Commercial to Service Commercial
- Sooke Council funds a $15,000 plan examining a possible hotel tax
- District takes full ownership of Canada Day costs, Lions continue to manage it