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A letter to Uncle Jason on the Tourism Levy to STRs in Alberta

Dear Mr. Kenny,

Like most Albertans, I believe the day that you had been elected was a great one! You have been a great representative of Alberta for many years on both the federal and provincial level.

I saw the budget this year and it is a very good one! For too many years it has been clear that the previous governments have been overspending when the average Albertan has been suffering. I really hope this time is the beginning of a prosperous Alberta. However, there is one small issue -- Levying the tourism fee to Short-term Rentals (STR).

In the budget, it reads "The government intends to bring forward legislation in spring 2020 to level the playing field among temporary accommodation providers". The only problem is it is not leveling the playing field -- The hotel industry has an enormous advantage of economy of scale among others. This is why assessing the tourism levy is wrong:

1) The STR hosts will not be receiving the same benefits as hotels who pay this levy.

2) The current tourism levy does not apply to establishments with fewer than 4 bedrooms -- This would include a huge majority of STR units.

3) The wording of the budget is vague but it seems that the STR guest would have to pay the tourism levy if staying over 30 nights, something someone staying at a hotel would not have to do.

4) Standard exemptions from the tourism levy will not apply to STR.

A lot of STR hosts are regular Albertans who are just trying to make ends meet. As you know the economy is down and people are just trying to keep the lights on. I feel that this levy would be punishing more local Albertans while helping the large hotel chains that are not even based here.

I am looking forward to seeing new budget -- I really hope that your government can do a full consultation with these STR hosts BEFORE this becomes law so everyone can have the best possible outcome.

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