Watson not rushing to implement municipal hotel tax

Mayor Jim Watson says the budget is mainly good news for the citizens of Ottawa.

While it was no surprise, Watson says $1 billion for stage 2 of LRT is welcome, as is additional cash for affordable housing.

The Ontario budget gives cities the power to levy hotel taxes and to tax transient accommodation - meaning Air BNB rentals could be affected.

But the mayor says he was just with the president of the hotel association, and he isn't rushing to impose anything.

“Philosophically, I don’t have a difficulty with it, but I’d want to see what the industry wants,” Watson said at City Hall after the budget was announced. “They were expecting something along these lines, and I think they’re going to have to regroup and determine what they’re going to do because one of their concerns is that they may start losing some of the big chains.”

Watson says he would be in favour of taxing people who operate large, professional Air BNBs, rather than people who occasionally rent out a small room.

This budget also includes funding for one supervised injection site in Ottawa.

It's an endeavour the mayor has never supported but he says he left this up to the board of health, and is pleased the dollars will come from the province, as the city didn't have the cash.

There are a few other items for Ottawa included in the 2017 Ontario budget:

  • A new lung cancer screening project for people at high risk at three pilot sites, one of which is the Ottawa Hospital.
  • The construction of a new four-storey building in Ottawa that will be used to co-locate the Carlington Community Health Centre and Ottawa Community Housing Corporation’s senior housing units.
  • $150,000 to repair the parking area of the Rendez-vous des aînés francophones d’Ottawa community centre, improving access for 2,000 francophone seniors.
  • Developing a plan to more specifically address the needs and improve the outcomes of Black youth in Windsor, Ottawa and the GTHA. As announced on March 7, 2017, an investment of $47 million over four years will increase access to supports for 10,800 Black children and youth by 2019-20.
  • Expanding the Ottawa Queensway from six to eight lanes between Maitland Avenue and Island Park Drive to improve safety and traffic flow, starting in summer 2017. This project also includes rehabilitating the Merivale Road bridge.

With files from Kristy Cameron.