Victoria is one of two South Island municipalities with a short-term rental bylaw

Across the CRD, there are 3,262 active listings on Airbnb, 1,113 of which are in the City of Victoria. (Inside Airbnb)

While the City of Victoria has implemented a bylaw restricting short-term rentals, few other municipalities on the South Island have taken similar steps.

Data obtained by CHEK News shows that Victoria has the highest number of active listings on sites like Airbnb and Vrbo, but there are hundreds of listings in South Island communities with no specific short-term rental bylaws.

According to Inside Airbnb, a website that analyzes Airbnb listings in various housing markets, there were 3,262 active Airbnb listings in the CRD between May 2021 and 2022, 1,113 of which were in the City of Victoria.

Saanich has the second-highest number, with 539 active listings, followed by Juan de Fuca with 268, Langford with 226, Salt Spring with 221, Sooke with 172, then the Southern Gulf Islands with 156.

The remaining municipalities have fewer than 100 listings, with Highlands having the fewest with 20 active listings.

With only Sidney passing a similar short-term rental bylaws, Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps says she would like to see more municipalities on the South Island implement their own.

“Before the city puts more resources towards this, and we’re doing everything we can, we have to take a regional approach,” Helps said. “And all they need to do is copy our bylaw and that will send a signal that in this region, we’re very serious about the housing affordability crisis, and we’re going to do everything we can to solve it.”

Sidney’s bylaw is similar to Victoria’s, though there is no requirement for business licences.

Town staff recently presented a report to Sidney council about the effectiveness of the bylaw, and found there are currently 29 illegal short-term rentals in the town.

“As of the writing of this report, it appears that enforcement action on STRs in condos has been successful,” the staff report says. “Staff will continue to review and investigate active STRs, shifting the focus to townhouses, single-family homes and illegal secondary suites. In staff’s opinion, Sidney does not currently have a significant issue with STRs under the current zoning bylaw.”

According to AirDNA, a website that analyses Airbnb and Vrbo data, there were 69 active listings in Sidney in May 2022.

Metchosin requires short-term rentals to obtain a business licence to operate in the municipality.

“The District is evaluating whether to limit or prohibit short-term rentals,” an information sheet on Metchosin’s requirement says. “Business Licences will help the District understand where short-term rentals are being operated, and their impacts.”

According to AirDNA there were 36 active listings in Metchosin in May 2022.

Saanich, Central Saanich, North Saanich, Langford, Sooke, Highlands, Oak Bay and Esquimalt do not have specific bylaws regarding short-term rentals, but their land use or zoning bylaws have restrictions on temporary or vacation rentals.

View Royal told CHEK News there is currently no bylaw, but the town is undergoing a review of zoning regulations to better address short-term rental.

Colwood says it does not have a bylaw, but the city had started doing work to address short-term rentals at the beginning of 2020 that was put on hold due to the pandemic. The city is undergoing a housing needs assessment and expects to address short-term rentals in that work.

How does Victoria compare to other jurisdictions in Canada and around the world?

AirDNA data shows that Victoria had 970 active listings — those that had one or more reservations or available days in April — putting it behind only Vancouver (3,091 rentals), and Whistler (2,947 rentals) in British Columbia.


Nationwide, Victoria is in the middle of the pack when it comes to active rentals, according to AirDNA data analyzed by CHEK News, falling just behind Winnipeg (1,078 listings), but ahead of bigger cities such as Hamilton (857) and Halifax (664). Unsurprisingly, Canada’s largest city, Toronto, had the most active listings while Charlottetown had the lowest of any Canadian city CHEK News analyzed. 

However, when focusing on just Airbnb listings, Victoria compared to specific neighbourhoods — downtown cores or popular tourist areas — in other larger cities ranked among the top, according to Inside Airbnb data.

On a per capita basis, Victoria had the lowest number of listings of 11 cities CHEK News analyzed while Quebec City had the highest, beating out New York City, and Los Angeles among others.

One of the reasons for the rise of Airbnb and short-term rentals over the years has been not only the convenience they offer to travellers but the income they can provide to hosts or corporations.

According to data on Inside Airbnb, hosts in Victoria earn an average income from their listing or listings of $15,984 annually, which is higher than hosts in Toronto’s waterfront neighbourhood, downtown Seattle, Montreal’s Ville-Marie, and downtown Los Angeles.

Hosts in downtown Victoria make even more, with an average of $21,324 a year, putting them ahead of hosts in downtown Boston, New York City’s Chelsea neighbourhood, downtown Vancouver, and in the same ballpark as San Francisco’s Marina District.

Furthermore, Victoria hosts ranked among the highest of any municipality in B.C. when it came to median revenue in April 2022.

AirDNA’s data shows that the median revenue for whole-home hosts in Victoria for April 2022 was $3,709, a 122 per cent increase from April 2021. Only Whistler ($3,769), downtown Vancouver ($4,359) and Tofino ($6,817) were higher.

Paul Danison, content director at, said short-term rentals are likely going to become even more popular in the coming years as more and more people, whom he called digital nomads, are able to work remotely.

“You have an awful lot of people, who now because of the pandemic, get to work from home, can live where they want, want to make a lifestyle change or they are moving to find more space,” he said. 

Danison says the issue of short-term rentals will require all levels of government to cooperate in order to find a sustainable solution.

“We hear different things from each level of government as to what they’re doing,” he said. “But we’re not hearing and seeing all three levels sit down together for a period of time and start throwing solutions out there. Let’s get creative and deal with this in a way that’s going to work for everyone.”

This is the third story of a four-part series examining the short-term rental industry in Victoria. The upcoming story will explore the current housing market, and look ahead to what is next for the City of Victoria’s short-term rental bylaw.

The first story breaks down the number of active listings on short-term rental sites like Airbnb and Vrbo, compared to the number of licences issued.

The second story CHEK News spoke with housing experts about the City of Victoria’s short-term rental bylaw.

The fourth and final story looks into potential solutions to the problem and at what level of government they would need to be implemented.

Laura Brougham
Nicholas Pescod

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