Council to vote on imposing MAT tax

Duane Hicks

Town council will vote tonight on whether to impose a new tax locally.
The Economic Development Advisory Committee is recommending the town adopt a four percent municipal accommodation tax (MAT), effective Jan. 1, 2019.
This would be applied on all accommodation that is less than 30 days in the Town of Fort Frances, including hotels, motels, bed and breakfasts, resorts, outposts, AirBNBs, and tent and trailer sites.
EDAC estimates the new tax would generate at least $300,000 a year, with half of the revenue going to tourism marketing, such as Rainy Lake Square programming, running the Fort Frances Tourism Information Centre, wayfinding signage, and marketing and promotion.
The other half would go towards infrastructure and development, such as beautification, a fund to assist small festivals, sporting tournaments and events, studies, and reports related to tourism development, the Rainy Lake Square, Parks and waterfront development, the Shevlin wood yard economic development feasibility study, and beautification projects.
Other regional municipalities already have a similar tax, including Kenora, Sioux Lookout, Thunder Bay, Winnipeg, and International Falls.
Last year’s provincial budget provided municipalities with a new tool to support tourism development and marketing through the Transient Accommodation Regulation 435/17, which allows municipalities to impose a MAT.
Tonight’s council meeting will follow the committee of the whole meeting, which starts at 5 p.m.
One in-camera item is on the agenda (a governance matter).
This meeting will be preceded by a special committee of the whole meeting, starting at 4 p.m., to discuss potential litigation matters regarding Agency One.
That meeting also will be in-camera (behind closed doors).
Other business on tonight’s agenda includes:
•a presentation of the Ontario Age-Friendly Community Award;
•a verbal update on capital projects;
•a recommendation re: a request from Naotkamegwanning First Nation to use the town’s landfill site;
•a recommendation re: a “Tour de Fort” sponsorship request;
•a request from Diane Maxey, chair of the Fort Frances Senior Centre Board of Management, re: consideration and support in principle in helping the senior centre acquire a larger facility;
•a letter from Ahlan and Judy Johnason re: property standard concerns;
•a request from the Township of Emo to use the town’s recycling depot;
•a request from TBT Engineering Consulting Group to add a side entrance at 255 Scott St. (the former Brockie’s Jewllers);
•bylaws to approve fire protection agreements with Rusty Myers Flying Service and the Nanicost Corporation Ltd.; and
•a bylaw to approve contracts for the supply of granular materials awarded through the public tender process.