Regional District of Nanaimo wants to regulate short term vacation rentals

Market growing despite fact they are not technically permitted in electoral areas

The Regional District of Nanaimo has noted a significant growth in short-term vacation rental (STVR) units and it wants to regulate them for the immediate term.

It’s an initiative the RDN has been coordinating with the City of Parksville, Town of Qualicum Beach and the Parksville Qualicum Beach Tourism Association, which brought its concerns to the attention of the regional district.

Geoff Garbutt, RDN manager of current planning, informed the Electora Areas Services Committee at its Tuesday meeting, Jan. 9, that there are a number of issues related to the sudden growth in STVR units in the regional district.

At present, the RDN has no statistical information on the number of STVRs within the region. Staff indicated an increase in STVRs, will negatively impact the availability of rental units for residential tenancy. The RDN is also concerned the rising trend is likely to adversely affect the affordabiltiy of homeownership.

Under the RDN’s home-based business regulation, which allows bed-and-breakfast operations, short-term vacation rentals are not permitted in the regional district electoral areas.

Staff suggested amending the home-based business regulation to align it with new market conditions, while also establishing boundaries on STVRs to take into consideration their impact on local neighbourhoods.

Three recommendations were presented to the committee to decide on:

• For parcels where a permanent resident lives, staff recommended amending Bylaws 500 and 1285 to permit STVRs on a portion of a dwelling unit, including in secondary suites. The operator must reside on the property.

• For those parcels where no permanent resident lives, staff proposed amending Zoning Bylaws 500 and 1285 to permit STVRs through a temporary-use permit guided by a corresponding board policy.

• Staff also wants to draft a report detailing the costs and benefits of a business licensing regime for the RDN Electoral Areas and include stakeholder engagement and an implementation strategy.

Garbutt said a report would also provide policies and regulations that would require operators to run their business in a “neighbourly type of way.”

Electoral Area H Director Bill Veenhof expressed concerns about enforcement.

“Specifically under number one, what we’re doing is normalizing vacation rental. So if you got a bad actor, in my area at least, you haven’t got an annoying bylaw, it will get harder to get the bad actor out of there,” said Veenhof. “I am entirely comfortable with that rural get-along with your neighbours and everything is good. So I can’t support this.”

Only recommendations one and three passed. Some directors said they did not like the idea of non-residents operating STVR units. Electoral Area E Director Bob Rogers called it an “unlicensed motel situation.”

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michael.briones@pqbnews.com

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