February at city council kicks off with money matters. Committee of the Whole will finally get a chance to chew on the new Municipal Accommodation Tax, and they will also look at the possibility of licensing short-term rentals, and whether they will implement the PACE program that will help Guelph homes get more environmentally friendly. Also, how are things going with that Smart Cities money we won?
NOTE #1: Delegates will be able to appear at this meeting via telephone, but you do have to register with the clerks office before 10 am on Friday February 4. You can also submit written delegations and correspondences for agenda items.
NOTE #2: The meeting will be closed to the public, though it will be live-streamed on the City of Guelph’s website here.
PRESENTATIONS: City of Guelph 2021 Lean Yellow Belt Graduates – Committee will pay tribute to the dozen staff members who completed this program from the Leading Edge group.
Long-term and Short-term Rental Housing Report – Way back in May 2016, city council directed staff to look at the issue of short-term rentals, meaning accommodations lasting 30 days or less. According to the staff report, this is a growing market in Guelph, but unlike hotels and bed and breakfasts, short-term rentals through apps like AirBnB and Vrbo are not licenced, inspected or regulated.
For those reasons, staff is asking committee to direct them to develop a new short-term rental licensing category after consulting with stakeholders and the public, and to bring back a bylaw later this year for council’s approval. Like other licensing categories, the new license will be run on a cost-recovery basis.
Municipal Accommodation Tax – As promised, Committee of the Whole will look at this new tax, which, the hotels themselves will not pay. According to the staff report, the MAT will be applied to hotels, bed and breakfasts and shared accommodations like AirBnBs adding between $4 and $7 per night for the person who booked the room or accommodation, and that should generate between $500,000 and $950,000 per year to support tourism initiatives, visitor attractions, and infrastructure.
If approved, the Guelph Chamber of Commerce will negotiate a five-year agreement as the City’s “tourism entity” to help with tourism promotion and marketing, and the MAT itself could start being collected by September 1 of this year.
What will become of the revenue? It will be deposited into a new reserve called the Tourism Municipal Accommodation Tax, but first, both the City and the Chamber are to need some seed money to begin programming, hire staff, support local tourism businesses, and develop enhanced destination marketing tools and campaigns. About $1 million will be borrowed from the City’s reserves and paid back from the revenues of the MAT over a five-year period. If approved, Guelph joins several other Ontario municipalities including Cambridge, Kitchener, Waterloo, Kingston, Barrie and Toronto who now have a Municipal Accommodation Tax.
Property Assessed Clean Energy Update – You have probably heard about this program before, it was designed for Guelph homeowners to fund retrofits that will create for energy efficiency cost-savings. Well, know it’s ready for implementation!
The Federation of Canadian Municipalities will provide up to $10 million in a loan from their Green Municipal Fund to help implement the program. The City of Guelph will also have to contribute $3.5 million from the 100 per cent Renewable Energy Reserve Fund, plus $275,000 in in-kind support from the City, which will largely go to the administration of the program.
If approved, Guelph will become the third municipality in Ontario to initiate such a program after Toronto and Ottawa.
Smart Cities Update: Our Food Future and Circular Opportunity Innovation Launchpad (COIL) – The Smart Cities Office will deliver an update to council about their activities and successes over the last year, which includes over 181 businesses that have established or expanded their circular practices, an additional $14.2 million in funding, launching the the Guelph-Wellington Urban Agriculture Challenge, and much, much more.
In terms of COIL, the office will report that the launchpad has designed and/or delivered 80 cross-functional pilots/projects to react circular economy goals. Staff will need to draft some new bylaws to administer the program, which should come back to a later council meeting.