KITIMAT VIEWS: A taxing idea

Could a hotel fee be used to pay for affordable housing projects and other community improvements?

I have an idea, and it’s a little crazy.

But most of the best ones are, aren’t they?

This is something that my brain has been spinning ever since a recent stay in a hotel.

Each night had what was called a Destination Marketing Fee. (Or was that tax? I’ve been mixing up those terms all week.)

Regardless, as time passed and I wondered where those costs come from — does the municipality or the province impose those? — I came back to Kitimat and re-entered the discussion about affordable housing.

Then, with talk about the mandatory contributions that could be asked of temporary worker housing in Kitimat — such as has been put into the bylaws for the PTI Group proposal — I wondered about other ways the town could help fund important affordable housing projects.

Now I say that, realizing it shouldn’t be a 100 per cent District responsibility to provide affordable housing.

But maybe there’s a way the District can help raise resources to contribute to projects or housing in addition to the work camp situation.

I sent a question over to the helpful Deputy Chief Administrative Officer at the District, Warren Waycheshen, asking if the town could impose fees or taxes per nights of stays at local hotels that could go into something like a Community Improvement Fund. He said through fees — not so much with taxes — the town could theoretically do something like that.

With the possibility there I counted the number of hotel rooms the town has. Between the Chalet, City Centre Motel and the Kitimat Hotel, there are 101 rooms, based on numbers from the Tourism Kitimat website.

If the District charged $1 per room per night, and given hotels here are booked solid, that’d be $36,865 a year.

Not a bad number to sustain a project or specific fund, maybe even a contract coordinator to manage these things. I then added proposed rooms, another 87 as mentioned in the mayor’s ‘good news’ portion of the November 18 council meeting, and the possible 300 with the Crossroads project.

At $1, assuming full capacity for the year, that’d raise $178,120. I didn’t include the potential from the proposed hotel on top of City Centre Mall.

As I say, this just an idea, it may not work out or be ideal on some sober second thought, but perhaps it’s an idea worth investigating to provide support, or at least some boost, to the idea of developing affordable housing projects and plans for the town, which housing situation is currently so strained.

Cameron Orr

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