Last Wednesday, the local hotel operators graciously stepped up and agreed to help us implement the MAT in phases over 3 years. While working through the Municipal Accommodation Tax (MAT) that is phasing in at 2.5% for 2024 until it reaches the intended 4% in 2026, it became clear that STR (short term rentals) need to be included in funding the “Destination Midland” marketing that the MAT funds will be exclusively used for.
The problem is that without an STR framework, we cannot ensure that they participate. The hotel operators are helping us promote Midland tourism but the inequity of leaving all the STR out of those efforts, when they will benefit from them, is neither fair nor responsible.
So, the basic objectives of implementing some kind of STR framework would need to accomplish the following:
1. Require STR operators to collect the MAT from non-residents guests for stays under 30 days (just like hotels will do)
2. Ensure cost recovery of the STR framework and its enforcement through a fee structure
3. Maintain a registry of owner / operator contacts to address non-compliance, guest issues or other bylaw / property standards violations in relation to the STR operations.
Many communities in Ontario, including our immediate neighbours, have implemented STR regulatory framework, primarily to control disruptive STR. Thankfully, Midland is not plagued with STR problems at this time and the few problems we do have can be dealt with using existing bylaws and progressive fines.
The rationale for considering an STR framework in Midland is to include STR in the fundraising efforts to promote Midland as a tourism destination and enjoy the accompanying benefits of having an up-to-date owner / operator registry to help with any issues that may arise from their commercial operations in residential neighbourhoods. The hotels are set to go live on January 2024 and it isn’t fair to let the STR operators benefit from the marketing campaigns that the MAT will pay for without having them also helping to collect the funds. We are all in this together and if you’re in the accommodation business, which AirBnB / VRBO and traditional BnB operators are clearly in, then you need to be part of the MAT program. Fair is fair.
Just as I did with the hotel operators, I’ll be inviting STR operators to a meeting to discuss this approach in the near future.