Sandbanks Provincial Park a missed MAT opportunity

Three-quarters of a million visitors to the County will not be affected by the Municipal Accommodation Tax (MAT).

The people going to Sandbanks Provincial Park are exempt because of the Provincial Government’s wording of its MAT legislation. Imagine the funds the County could collect if each Sandbanks visitor was charged a loonie or two!

Sandbanks is exempt from the tax. Actually they are exempt from collecting it since the MAT is a flow-through tax.

Why is that?

The people who must bear the entire burden of this tax are the mom-and-pop owner-occupied bed & breakfast establishments lumped with absentee landlord Airbnb-type accommodations. Quite fair, eh?

This discriminatory legislation is outrageous.

The Municipality should be making serious efforts to lobby for change. And so should the management of Sandbanks since they are by far the largest player in County tourism. When Sandbanks has to close during the summer because it is at capacity, it is only simple economics of supply and demand that says the entry cost should be higher.

Forcing owner-occupied B&Bs and other accommodators (who are purely opportunistic) to up charge their guests to the tune of 4 per cent while letting the big players off the hook is hardly fair. Target only the smallest and the weakest fish since they are helpless.

We pay higher and higher property taxes and now we must subsidize Sandbanks for absolving themselves of helping to contribute to the costs taxpayers must pay to cover the costs of tourism.

This tempest, however, is currently all for naught. Visitors who have booked their accommodation earlier this year are cancelling in droves. And there are no new bookings, not even for the fall. There will be no tourist season this year.

Conrad Biernacki and Brian Musselwhite

Black River Bed & Breakfast