The City of Revelstoke will be allocating funds collected through the Online Accommodation Platform tax to affordable housing initiatives.
Through the Municipal and Regional District Tax program, the city collects two per cent on the purchase price of accommodation in designated accommodation areas. This includes a tax paid by websites that visitors use to book accommodation.
When the province created the program, the intention behind collecting the funds was to raise revenue for tourism marketing programs and projects, however, the program requirements were revised last summer and the money can now also be used to fund affordable housing projects.
According to the staff report presented to city council last week, staff met with stakeholders to discuss the changes as they cannot be made without support from 51 per cent of the accommodation businesses and 51 per cent of the room base. Staff recommended allocating only revenues from the Online Accommodation Platforms to affordable housing.
“The Ministry of Finance anticipates Revelstoke to receive approximately $100,000 from the OAP MRDT stream in 2019,” the staff report reads. “However, this amount will fluctuate with changes in the number for short-term rental accommodations.”
These potential funds will be taken into consideration during the creation of a Housing Strategy for the city.
In order to allocate the OAP funds to affordable housing projects, the city has to submit a plan to the government outlining how the funds will be spent in the upcoming year.
Should the plan be approved by the province, the city requested that the revenues be reserved and pooled for future affordable housing projects.
*correction notice: The Review previously stated that the city collects three per cent MRDT when it is actually two per cent.