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City of Brantford Council Notes for Tuesday, December 19, 2023

City of BrantfordCity of Brantford Council Notes for Tuesday, December 19, 2023

Bell Let’s Talk Day

The City of Brantford has once again declared January 24, 2024 as “Bell Let’s Talk Day.”

One in five Canadians will experience a mental illness or mental health issue in their lifetime and the day is one for conversation, support and positive change for mental health.

Bell Let’s Talk Day was created to promote mental health awareness and acceptance, as well as to build on the four key pillars of fighting stigma, improving access to care, supporting world-class research and leading an example in the workplace.

On the day, the City will raise the Bell Let’s Talk flag as a reminder to the community that mental health matters and that help is available.

Brantford to implement Municipal Accommodation Tax

During the City Council meeting held on Tuesday, December 19, 2023, council officially approved the Municipal Accommodation Tax (MAT).

The City will follow in the footsteps of other municipalities by putting a four per cent tax on out of town visitors when staying at hotels, Airbnb rentals and bed and breakfasts for events such as the 55+ Summer Games. The MAT will be implemented in the second quarter of 2024.

During the September 26 City Council meeting, Kara Davey, Manager of Tourism, Culture and Sport, said that the tax will help to generate around $824,000 a year in revenue.

When asked how the tax will be collected, Davey said that it will go through the Ontario Restaurant Hotel and Motel Association (ORHMA).

“It will be set up directly through the hotels, they provide training to staff, and they set up a new tax code in their account, they also go through the booking agent such as Booking.com or Expedia and set up the tax code in those situations as well,” she said. “And then it’s on the hotel to remit (send) monthly to ORHMA, who will then collect and remit to the city, and then the city distributes it to the Municipal Services Corporation.”

During this Tuesday’s meeting, Councillors Dan McCreary and Brian Van Tilborg both asked for the item to be separated, though for different reasons.

“It’s been a long haul, and this is the final hurdle that we need in terms of creating our municipal corporation and staffing it up, appointing directors to get on with this and begin to collect revenues that the city can put to good use starting in the second quarter of next year,” said McCreary.

Van Tilborg on the other hand, noted that he would not be voting in favour of the by-law. His wardmate Mandy Samwell also planned on voting against it, as did Kevin Davis, Mayor for the City of Brantford. 

“I just oppose another tax on a tax,” said Van Tilborg.

Councillor Gino Caputo noted that he would be voting in favour of the tax as he had done so originally.

“I think that as we move forward, this by-law could actually be extended into further opportunities that present themselves to us, especially when we’re looking at all the opportunities to present themselves within the city of Brantford, and what our hopes are for at one time having to become a very, very well attended tourism spot in our province,” he said.

Both Councillors Greg Martin and Rose Sicoli said that they would be voting in favour, noting that it would be beneficial to live up to the Tournament Capitol name.

“I think just last meeting, we were sitting here saying that we need to put our money where our mouth is and step up and become that Tournament Capital that we’re talking about being,” she said. “That money needs to come from somewhere, so this is a nice compromise. I think it will give us the opportunity to leverage that tax into some great new buildings here in town, perhaps helping our Sports Council..”

Councillor John Sless noted that this is a tax that most Brantford citizens are paying in other communities they visit.

“It would only seem fair to me that people coming in from neighbouring communities would be subjected to the same treatment that our folks are when they visit the other cities, so I’ll be supporting this,” he said.

During the vote for the second reading of the by-law, it was carried after a vote of seven to four, noting that Van Tilborg, Carpenter, Davis and Samwell voted against it.

Van Tilborg once again separated the by-law for the third reading in order to vote against it again.

McCreary noted that it’s important for people to understand this is not a tax that residents would be paying.

“This does not apply to people who live in the City of Brantford, it applies to people who come to Brantford to attend events or sporting weekends,” he said. “It’s other people paying for our stuff, and if we don’t have other people pay for our stuff, then we have to pay. …So, what do we lose if we don’t do this tonight? We lose the opportunity to do new things to enhance our tourism base, to enhance our sport tourism base. We lose the opportunity to do all those good things on someone else’s nickel. We also lose the opportunity to have someone else pay the way for us as we do when we go to other cities.”

During the vote for the third reading of the by-law, it was carried after a vote of seven to four, noting that Van Tilborg, Carpenter, Davis and Samwell voted against it.

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