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Parksville wants ‘resort row’ exempt from B.C.’s new short-term rentals act

City asking for B.C. to provide exemptions under several of its land-use designations
Parksville is seeking an exemption from B.C.’s new Short-Term Rental Accommodations Act. (Kevin Forsyth photo)

Parksville will request an exemption to the provincial government’s Short-Term Rental Accommodations Act.

City council voted to write a letter asking for an exemption that would allow short-term rentals in units that are not an owner’s principal residence in several Parksville land-use designations that include Resort Lands, Tourist Commercial, Downtown Waterfront and Restricted Recreation.

Mayor Doug O’Brien said he brought up the motion after the city received “numerous calls and inquiries” from people in the listed areas who wanted to know if their tourist accommodation would need to be converted to a long-term rental.

“The concern which has not been addressed to our satisfaction by the provincial government, as to the details of it, is whether they would be lumped in with all the rest of the — let’s say the single family dwellings for short terms rentals,” O’Brien said during council’s Nov. 6 meeting.

The legislation was tabled by the BC NDP on Oct. 15, but key parts of it won’t come into effect until May 1, 2024.

It defines short-term rentals as any accommodation provided to the public for less than 90 consecutive days; establishes registries for both hosts and platforms like Airbnb, and an enforcement unit; toughens penalties for violators; and limits short-term rentals to principal residences and one additional unit per property.

O’Brien mentioned concerns from owners of Resort Drive properties that they could be considered long-term accommodation under the new legislation.

“So that means our motel, hotel accommodation is going to dwindle because of that,” he said.

City CAO Keeva Kehler said neither she nor the director of community planning and building were consulted by the province and did not know the legislation was coming.

READ MORE: B.C.’s new short-term rental regulations approved after colourful debate

“I think what you’re trying to achieve is just that initial flag that we as a City of Parksville council have concerns,” she said. “That you’re putting something in place that really isn’t thinking of the full implications for our city in these specific areas where residential is not even permitted.”

O’Brien said he wanted to bring the motion to council sooner rather than later because the province said in meetings that details will follow.

“I’m not sure that they have included those details yet, or got to those details,” he said. “But we thought it may be influential upon us to get this to the province right away — if you’re going to consider it, please consider this.”

Kehler said the regulation seems focused on large centres like Vancouver and not on smaller cities where the economy can be focused on one sector, such as Parksville.

“We’re seeing a decision from the provincial government that in some respects I would say, and trying not to be disrespectful to the province of course, but there seems to be a lack of understanding of the operational side from a local government,” Kehler said.

Council voted unanimously to send a letter to Lieutenant Governor Janet Austin and Parksville Qualicum MLA Adam Walker.

-with a file from Wolf Depner

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