Victoria’s short-term rental delay motion defeated

Victoria's short-term rental delay motion defeated

A Victoria motion to ask the B.C. government to delay the implementation of its short-term rental ban has been defeated in the committee of the whole.

Mayor Marianne Alto and Coun. Stephen Hammond put forward a motion to ask the province to make its ban come into effect on Nov. 1, instead of May 1.

This would allow short-term rental operators to run through one last busy summer season before the ban is implemented, the motion said.

“This for me was one small step which pointed towards trying to find a balance point among competing interests, all of whom are our residents, and for whom we have an obligation to listen and to try and put forward some way to accommodate their very different and often competing needs,” Alto said in the March 14 committee of the whole meeting.

Coun. Dave Thompson noted that Chemistry Consulting a consultancy firm that partners with Destination Greater Victoria to analyze hotel vacancy in the city noted that in the busiest months, hotels in the region had a peak of an 86 per cent occupancy rate this past year.

“It makes it a little less clear to me that we have a crisis-level shortage of tourist accommodation,” Thompson said. “We have a very severe housing shortage, thousands of units, and that’s been very clear for many months, well many years actually.”

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Coun. Jeremy Caradonna noted that while council members had received a number of emails from short-term rental operators and tourists, there was one notable voice missing.

“If there was some tourism crisis in Victoria, why do we not have a letter from Destination Greater Victoria?” Caradonna asked.

“I didn’t receive a letter from Paul Nursey if I’d received a letter from DGV, saying ‘you know what, there is a tourism crisis we’re really worried about this summer,’ then you know what, I honestly might think differently about this advocacy motion, but we did not get that letter.”

Victoria staff noted that in 2023 it issued a record high number of business licences for short-term rental accommodations, with 663 licences issued. So far in 2024, there has been a 43 per cent drop in issued licences.

Coun. Marg Gardiner was in favour of the motion, noting that this delay would give short-term rental operators more time to adjust to the changes.

“Requesting, as has been asked today in this motion, that the government alter the implementation date by four months or five months much will give more breathing room for the current owners to adapt to rent full time which would be a loss probably to them unless they bought it many years ago, or just sell,” Gardiner said.

Alto, Hammond and Gardiner were the only councillors who voted in favour of the motion. Coun. Chris Coleman was absent and the rest voted against.

Ahead of the vote, CHEK News spoke with B.C.’s Housing Minister Ravi Kahlon about the potential impending request from Victoria, who said that the government already gave operators enough time to adjust to the new rules.

“We purposely gave time for those that had investment properties to either sell or rent them in the long-term market, but we are really struggling to get the housing that we need for people in our communities,” Kahlon said on March 11.

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Laura BroughamLaura Brougham

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