Property owners hosting town hall over short term rental changes

CHEK

Months after the province announced sweeping changes to short-term rentals in B.C., a property rights group is hosting a town hall.

Back in October, the province announced new legislation that would limit the number of short-term rentals an owner can have and what is defined as short-term.

Under the new rules, which would come into effect in May 2024, owners would only be allowed to have one short-term rental within their principal property plus one secondary suite.

“We don’t agree with 100 per cent of [the rules],” said Orion Rodgers, a spokesperson with the Property Rights Association of B.C.

Property Rights has scheduled a town hall meeting open to the public at Victoria City Hall starting at 6 p.m. aimed as an informative session about the proposed changes, which the group says have “unintended consequences.”

“The biggest upset for us and many others in the province [is] the blanket legislation that really didn’t take into consideration people who purchased these properties, operating them lawfully, you know they had a business license, they were paying their taxes, you know contributing to the economy,” said Rodgers.

The biggest change they want to see is for the province to honour the city’s bylaw that would exempt more than 600 short-term rentals from the new legislation.

The units are considered “transient” and were grandfathered back in 2017. The group says those units help the city’s tourism sector.

“These units that are being taken out of the market that are supposedly not available for long-term rental, are ones that are serving a great purpose as they are, and would be creating more hardship, trying to push them back into the market,” said Rodgers.

However, in Parksville, the city’s mayor is afraid the changes would damage its tourism sector, which they estimate brought in $190 million to the local economy in 2019.

In a four-page letter to the housing minister, Mayor Doug O’Brien called for an exemption to certain parts of Parksville that he says weren’t “designed to provide long-term residential housing.”

In the letter, he says short-term housing is crucial to the health of the economy.

The ministry says it will respond to O’Brien’s letter soon, adding that they’re standing behind its proposed legislation.

“When many communities – including Parksville – are seeing low vacancy rates, we believe the new legislation offers a balanced approach that will return thousands of homes to the long-term housing market while still accommodating our province’s tourism needs,” said the ministry in an emailed statement.

The town hall will also be livestreamed on YouTube.

Oli HerreraOli Herrera

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