Kelowna looking at how best to spend Airbnb taxes collected | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Kelowna News

Kelowna looking at how best to spend Airbnb taxes collected

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The City of Kelowna collected hundreds of thousands of dollars in tax revenue from short-term rental companies like Airbnb during some of the quietest tourism months of the year.

Taxes started to be paid on Oct. 1, 2018, and almost $336,000 was collected by the end of June, according to a report going to city council on Monday, Nov. 25.

In the report, city staff are asking for permission to partner with Tourism Kelowna to study the best way to spend that money.

“While the City has conducted several important studies relating to housing needs and the rental housing inventory, the perspective of employers and workers regarding how gaps in the housing supply affect staff attraction, retention and the bottom line for businesses is not as well understood,” states the report written by James Moore, the city’s long range policy planning manager.

The study, if approved, will survey Tourism Kelowna stakeholders, look at housing needs and hold focus groups with employees.

The budget could be as much as $40,000 with the city paying $30,000 from the taxes collected with the rest coming from Tourism Kelowna.

It’s clear, from a letter accompanying the report, that Tourism Kelowna wants the tax revenue to benefit the tourism industry.

“We need to acknowledge that Tourism Kelowna represents a wide variety of stakeholders, many of whom would prefer these funds remain allocated to destination marketing,” wrote association president and CEO Lisanne Ballantyne.

A report back to council is expected next fall.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Rob Munro or call 250-808-0143 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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