COVID-19: other Quebec hotels go on a crusade against taxes

COVID-19: other Quebec hotels go on a crusade against taxes

After The Delta and the Grand Times, the owners of the Concorde and five other hotels are also setting off on a crusade against Quebec City to demand the cancellation of their tax bill due to the pandemic.

Other motions, passed under the radar, have been filed in Superior Court since the beginning of November. The businessman Jean-Guy Sylvain and his partners have taken great measures to “preserve their rights”.

The procedure concerns the Hotel Le Concorde on the Grande Allée, the Hotel Ambassadeur on the Boulevard Sainte-Anne, the Hotel Universel in Sainte-Foy and the Unilofts hotels on the Chemin Sainte-Foy and the Grande Allée. The owners of the Hotel Classique have also asked the court to revise their tax bill for the year 2020.

In summary, all owners are asking for roughly the same thing: they are asking a judge to order a new assessment of the value of their building, to set it at $ 1 as of March 13, 2020 – the day the he state of health emergency was declared – then to declare null and illegal the municipal and school tax accounts issued so far. Finally, they claim the reimbursement of the sums paid in excess.

“It’s a nightmare for hotels,” argues Mr. Sylvain. We have hotels where we pay over $ 1 million and then the taxes are based on our turnover also in part, in addition to the value of the building. I lost 90% of my turnover so they can fix my taxes! ”

Against Bill 67

The hoteliers’ requests have a direct link with a controversial article of Bill 67, which specifically provides that companies will not be able to invoke the health crisis to obtain an adjustment of their property tax bill.

“The law gave us the authorization to ask the cities to adjust our taxes, then the government passes a retroactive law in March, as if by chance … It does not make sense to take away our rights. It is the City of Quebec and all the cities that are pushing after the government, ”protested Mr. Sylvain.

The Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses and the Quebec Federation of Chambers of Commerce are calling for the withdrawal of section 135 of the bill, which has not yet been adopted.

The cities lobby denounced

Hotel associations have taken the same step, but have little hope of convincing the Legault government to back down. “We will continue to make representations, but this battle, we know that we will lose it. All the municipalities are against us. We do not have their economic and political strength, ”laments Marjolaine de Sa, of the hotel association in Quebec, resigned.

9% occupancy rate in the last month

COVID-19: other Quebec hotels go on a crusade against taxes

Photo Stevens LeBlanc

Marjolaine de Sa, Managing Director

Hotels in the Quebec City region recorded a starving 9% occupancy rate in November, according to the most recent statistics obtained by The newspaper.

These disastrous results, compiled by the Association hôtelière de la région de Québec, illustrate once again the harsh reality of hotel establishments, victims of the collapse in tourism.

The Association’s general manager, Marjolaine de Sa, will unveil the official balance sheet for the year 2020 in January, but she is already predicting an occupancy rate which should oscillate around 20%, a figure inflated by an unexpected performance at the start. year, before the borders are closed.

“We will end the year at 20% because we had good months of January and February, while we were heading towards a rate of 71%,” she puts into perspective. “To start being profitable, a hotel needs to have between 40% and 45% occupancy rate. When you make 9%, I don’t need to tell you that you are not making any money. You stay open because you want to keep your staff. ”

45 hotels are closed

No less than 45 establishments, of all sizes, are temporarily closed, out of around 250 in the region.

“There are a number of people who have told me they won’t open until June. We have eight establishments that have closed permanently. They told us about it, but not all employees know about it. There are small establishments in the lot, like bed & breakfast “, deplores Ms. de Sa.

“We have 80% of hotel workers in Quebec who have lost their jobs permanently or who are unemployed,” she recalls.

Insufficient help

Hoteliers often repeat that they have never asked for state aid in the past. This time around, they have no choice and consider that the programs in place are insufficient. “We were lucky that we had federal assistance because at the provincial level, for tourism, we did not have much. Even if you ask for a loan of $ 2 or $ 3 million, with a maximum forgivable portion ($ 200,000), that often doesn’t even cover a month of operation. ”

Hotel Le Concorde

  • Built in 1974
  • 28 floors
  • 406 rooms and suites
  • Value of the building on the 2019-2021 roll: $ 27 million
  • Municipal tax bill in 2020: $ 915,858 (+ $ 50,000 for water and waste taxes)
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