NEWS BRIEFS, Nov. 26, 2019

Ottawa City Hall. Jean-Luc Henry via Creative Commons

Ottawa plans Airbnb crackdown

OTTAWA, Ont. — Ottawa is joining a growing number of cities across the country that are regulating how short-term rental operators do business within their boundaries.

Vancouver, Toronto and other municipalities have stepped in to regulate short-term rentals, which generate income for owners but are often in competition with hotel owners and tenants seeking long-term rental units.

Ottawa, noting that a third of its residents live in rented accommodation, asked staff to produce the study earlier this year. An initial report and recommendations were published on November 5 and were discussed at a special meeting of the city’s Community and Protective Services Committee on November 15. The report will be considered by City Council on November 27.

Recommendations include requiring short-term rental operators obtain a permit and pay a registration fee. Short-term rental units would also be required to pay the municipal accommodation tax. Airbnb has voluntarily been collecting the tax from operators and remitted $1.1 million to Ottawa in its first year of doing so.

Condominiums would be allowed to ban short-term rentals from their premises.

“Following Council’s decisions on the recommended regulatory frameworks, staff will develop the required by-laws, policies and procedures as directed,” information on the city’s website explains. “Final by-laws will be submitted for Council approval beginning in early 2020.”

Tourism Toronto's new report on the tourism economy details the contribution of hotels.

Toronto anchors GTA’s tourism economy

TORONTO – A report released this week underscores the central role that Toronto, one of more than 20 cities in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), plays in the region’s tourist economy.

The report, prepared by market research firm Tourism Economics of Wayne, Pennsylvania and Oxford, England for Toronto Tourism and the Toronto Region Board of Trade, says that visitors to Toronto had an impact of $10.3 billion annually in 2018.

“Whether someone visits Toronto for leisure or business, the visitor economy has a broader impact on economic development, influencing foreign direct investment decisions and the growth of our innovation economy,” the report states.

Visitors spent $6.5 billion in Toronto in 2018. This includes $1.6 billion spent in local hotels, or 72% of the $2.2 billion spent on hotels in the region. A total of 6.4 million room nights were sold in Toronto in 2018, or 57% of the 11.4 million room nights sold in the region that year.

International travellers have a particularly important impact on the region, accounting for just 15% of visitors but 45% of total spending. Hotels are a key expense for visitors, accounting for 24% of spending.

Total room inventory in Toronto has averaged just over 28,000 since 2013, but room revenue has grown 55% over the last five years from $113 in 2013 to $174 in 2018. Growth in room revenue is driven by rapid increases in occupancy rate and average daily room rate – now at $225 – through 2018.

The report notes that conferences, exhibitions and other business events are a key draw for visitors to the region, attracting about 400,000 delegates every year and generating $858 million in economic impact.

“Visitor arrivals to Toronto, both for leisure and for business, are at record highs,” the report concludes. “Overnight and overseas visitors are staying longer, doing more, and spending more while they’re here; and at the heart of this thriving visitor economy is a strong business sector.”

Bullfrog Power signs largest hotel

WINDSOR, Ont. – Caesars Windsor is now the largest hotel in Canada served by Bullfrog Power, a renewable energy provider based in Toronto.

“Partnering with Bullfrog Power is important to us because we believe in doing our part to reduce our impact on the environment,” said James Hollohazy, director of resort operations, in a statement announcing the arrangement.

Caesars Windsor has 107 promotional digital screens and Bullfrog Power will ensure the energy used to power those screens will originate from renewable sources. These include low-impact hydropower and wind energy.

The initiative joins other measures Caesars Windsor has taken to be more environmentally responsible, including a landfill diversion program for its e-waste and a donation program for its linens. In addition, Hotel soaps are recycled and rejuvenated for hygiene kits.

“Thanks to this program, we are now able to offer our guests a more environmentally sustainable stay as part of our commitment to create a truly rewarding hotel experience,” Hollohazy said.

According to Bullfrog Power, the project will deliver between 500 and 999 kWh annually to Caesars Windsor. With 758 rooms, this makes the property the largest hotel served by Bullfrog Power.

Three other hotels draw power at the same tier. These include the 358-room Pacific Gateway Hotel in Richmond, British Columbia, the 193-room Hotel Blackfoot in Calgary, and the 37-room Gladstone Hotel in Toronto. Of the four properties, only the Gladstone is entirely powered by Bullfrog.

Royal Botanical Gardens plans wellness retreat

BURLINGTON, Ont. – A makeover of the Royal Botanical Gardens in Burlington will include a wellness retreat, under a master planning initiative undertaken in partnership with Moriyama & Teshima Planners of Toronto.

The aim of the master plan is to improve connections across the 2,700 acres of environmentally sensitive areas the Royal Botanical Gardens oversees, including nature sanctuaries, cultivated gardens and an arboretum.

The planned wellness retreat would be part of a re-imagined arboretum.

The plan also provides for an escarpment retreat and a new community hub featuring such amenities as community gardens, farmer’s market, and community centre.

There is no timeline for development of the retreat properties. The master plan looks 25 years into the future and priorities for short-term capital projects have yet to be set. Those are expected by the end of February 2020, with a final decision planned for mid-March 2020.

“To make these ambitious goals a reality, [Royal Botanical Gardens] will be launching a major capital fundraising campaign,” said CEO Mark Runciman in a statement on November 12. “The implementation of the plan will involve input from all stakeholders in determining the future direction of RBG and deepen partnerships with municipalities, conservation authorities, commissions, and other provincial institutions.”

Source: Lodging Econometrics

Canada sets benchmark for hotel plans

PORTSMOUTH, N.H. – Hotel plans are booming in Canada, according to Lodging Econometrics, a market research firm based in New Hampshire.

The total construction pipeline in Canada soared to an all-time high of 289 projects with a total of 38,453 rooms at the end of the third quarter. The number of projects increased 17% from a year ago, while the number of rooms proposed is up a remarkable 28% versus last year.

There are 85 projects with a total of 10,337 rooms under construction at present, Lodging Econometrics reported. An additional 125 projects totalling 14,574 rooms are set to start construction within the next 12 months, up 47% from a year ago.

Perhaps even more impressive, the number of rooms in the early planning stages stands at 13,452 rooms across just 79 projects. This has boosted the average hotel size increasing to 171 rooms from just 127 rooms a year ago.

Of these new projects, 47 were added to the roster in the third quarter – more than in any other quarter, ever, according to Lodging Econometrics.

Ontario is the most active province in Canada with regards to hotel construction, with 147 projects and 19,442 rooms. British Columbia is also at a record high, with 47 projects and 6,520 rooms. Alberta ranks third with 31 projects and 4,889 rooms. Together, these three provinces account for 80% of the rooms in the pipeline in Canada. 
Toronto leads among municipalities with 49 projects totalling 7,525 rooms, or 20% of all rooms planned for Canada. Vancouver leads in B.C., with 14 projects totalling 1,660 rooms. Alberta cities did not rank among the top five metropolitan markets in Canada.

Hotel, convention centre planned for Langley

LANGLEY, B.C. – Mitchell Hospitality Inc. is seeking permission to build a 264-room hotel and conference centre at 200th Street and Highway 1 in the Vancouver suburb of Langley.

The proposed hotel will be located with the larger Carvolth Business Park development, which is going through the municipal rezoning process.

The seven-storey hotel development will include both a Four Points by Sheraton and a Residence Inn by Marriott. It will also include a restaurant and retail unit.

During a public information session earlier this year, 20 responses were received. Most supported the project, and underscored that hotel space in Langley has not grown in step with the community.

“We are in need of additional hotel/office space and the proposed application will definitely fill this need,” noted one respondent.

The proposed construction schedule envisions breaking ground in 2020 with completion of the first phase in February 2022 and full completion of the project by December 2023. The hotel and conference centre will be part of the first phase of construction.

Coast Hotels exceeds $1 million in giving

VANCOUVER, B.C. – Vancouver-based Coast Hotels Ltd.’s donations to charity surpassed the million-dollar mark this fall with a gift of $75,000 from the 17th annual Coast Hotels Shuhachi Naito Golf Classic.

Beneficiaries of the funds included the ALS Society of BC, the Vancouver Holocaust Education Centre and S.U.C.C.E.S.S., which works with new immigrants and in support of multiculturalism.

The funding was announced on November 21 and was accompanied by cheque presentations to the three organizations.

“The values of these organizations align closely with those of Coast Hotels”, noted Takamasa Machiura, executive vice-president. “‘Living with Honour’ is something that we strive for, and the opportunity to support the valuable work of each of these organizations is a privilege.”

Coast Hotels has a particular connection to the ALS Society of British Columbia, as Shuhachi Naito, a former executive and long-time Coast ambassador, lost his battle to ALS in 2014.

“It was through Shu that we came to know of the work that the ALS Society of British Columbia is doing to support medical advances, and to assist ALS patients and families with programs and services,” stated Mark Hope, vice-president, development and revenue strategy with Coast Hotels.

Coast has scheduled next year’s golf tournament for July 9, 2020.