Tofino is checking in on its local vacation rental supply to determine whether restrictions could help create residential affordability.
During their March 8 regular meeting, the town’s municipal council unanimously agreed to direct their staff to put together a report on Tofino’s short-term rental economy statistics, trends, and data.
The motion was brought forward by mayor Dan Law and Coun. Cathy Thicke.
“It’s pretty straightforward. There’s been a lot of talk about short-term rentals, the question keeps coming up in the community and this motion is intended to get staff to bring forth comprehensive data,” Law said. “I think if there’s going to be any assessment and any possibility of discussion of policy shift or bylaws, then I would like to see a very comprehensive data set.”
He suggested the report would provide the number of vacation rentals and a breakdown of available rooms compared to the number of long-term rentals and housing units.
“I’d like to see a lot of data so that council is very informed for a discussion and a look at any future policy changes,” he said.
Coun. Cathy Thicke said “it’s time” for the community to have a comprehensive review and noted the recent housing needs assessment in council’s 2021-2023 strategic plan noted the impact short term rentals are having on housing supply and affordability.
“The lack of equity in housing is becoming more apparent and the disparity is becoming greater, so I think we need to look at what’s happening now, where we want our community to go and just how we want to proceed,” she said. “Having that review and data will give us the information that we need to consider any further adjustments in policies going forward and I think our council has the maturity and wisdom to tackle something that is difficult but essential in this time.”
Coun. Duncan McMaster said he would support the motion, but wondered what role the municipal or provincial governments should have in enforcement.
“Our taxes keep on going up and up and up and we know we’re facing a drastic increase soon with the liquid waste management plan,” he said, adding the province’s tenancy regulations limit how much landlords can increase rents annually.
“I think elements of government are forcing people to consider short term rentals that wouldn’t normally…just to pay the bills. So, I don’t think we can say it’s just greed on other people’s part.”
“That question actually is embedded in this (motion), that’s why I would like to see real data and real lived experience from people,” he said.