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Resort communities want more hotel tax

Whistler not expecting a decision on proposed financial tools before the fall




By Alison Taylor

Whistler, along with other resort communities, wants a bigger share of the provincial hotel tax.

At least that's the proposal now before the provincial government. If awarded, this will give the resort community its much sought after Òfinancial tools,Ó which were one of the promised legacies for hosting the 2010 Olympics.

ÒWe've come up with (a proposal) that's unique and Canadian, that's a little different, that we think is reasonable,Ó said Mayor Hugh O'Reilly of the proposal for the municipality to receive more of the hotel tax.

The province collects an 8 per cent tax on all hotel rooms in B.C. In Whistler that tax is a little higher at 10 per cent. This is true of about 20 other communities too.

The province collects that 10 per cent and gives Whistler 2 per cent of the tax. For 2004 Whistler received $3.4 million of the $17 million that was collected from Whistler hotel rooms.

This proposal, explained O'Reilly, asks the province to consider giving more hotel tax to those communities that rely on tourism.

ÒIt's an incentive for communities to say no to other industries and really try and promote tourism, because there's a reward at the end of it.

ÒIt's consistent with the province's philosophy of growing tourism. We think that communities that are successful should be rewarded and allowed to be more successful in the future.Ó

O'Reilly would not reveal how much more tax Whistler is looking for but explained that for each resort community it would be a percentage based on how much that communityÕs economy relies on tourism.

ÒWe've given some outlines and suggestions,Ó he said.

Whistler's growing frustration over its lack of financial tools, promised by the provincial government during Olympic bid negotiations but yet to materialize, was blatantly obvious at Monday's council meeting.

Upon receiving the 2005 budget, Councillor Kristi Wells said: ÒThe legacy that was promised to us as we moved into the OlympicsÉ just hasn't been followed through on.Ó

She went on to say how challenging and frustrating that has been for council.

Later that evening, during a discussion about the high amount of taxes Whistler businesses pay, Councillor Nick Davies again raised the issue of financial tools.