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London city politicians to debate what to do with revenue from hotel tax

London’s incoming hotel tax will be on the agenda when city politicians meet Monday.

Members of the strategic priorities and policy committee will debate where the money raised by the tax should go.

Provincial rules dictate that half of the money, which is expected to be between $2 million and $4 million a year, should go to a tourism agency. Council must decide what to do with the other half.

“What we have proposed to council is to consider putting their portion of the funding into an infrastructure fund to help improve our facilities in the city so that we can be more event ready and improve the quality of life for our citizens,” said John Winston, general manager of Tourism London.

Winston says that fund could pay for improvements to Budweiser Gardens.

“With our experience with all the major events we’ve had here, the Budweiser needs expansion,” Winston said.

“We need back of house to help support some of the major events that we bring to the city,” he said.

Past events held in London, such as the Brier in 2005, as well as the World Figure Skating Championships and a couple Memorial Cups, prove the venue could use some work, Winston said.

“The other advantage of having this fund and having visitors put money into this fund, is that what you’re really creating is an opportunity to leverage that funding through a debenture. You could debenture a new capital project, new capital improvements,” Winston said.

A debenture is a long-term bond issued by a company, or an unsecured loan, that a company issues without a pledge of assets.

London city council gave its approval to the tax back in January.

If city council signs off on the plan this week, the hotel tax would start appearing on hotel and motel bills in October.

— With files from Devon Peacock and Jaclyn Carbone

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