Airbnb and other vacation-rental sites are now seeing an uptick in demand. (Tribune News Service)

Airbnb and other vacation-rental sites are now seeing an uptick in demand. (Tribune News Service)

EDITORIAL: Considering short-term rental units

Communities working to address regulations and effects of short-term rentals

The rise of short-term vacation rentals has been affecting communities around the province.

These rentals offer vacationers an accommodation option beyond hotel and motel rooms, traditional bed and breakfasts and other rentals. As a result, they can allow more people the opportunity to visit a community, especially during the peak tourist season when hotel and motel rooms fill up quickly.

The revenue from tourism dollars can have a positive impact on a community, and any initiative which helps to draw tourists is worth considering.

READ ALSO: CMHC: Rental vacancies, prices edged up as COVID-19 spread across Canada

READ ALSO: Kelowna council quashes plans for short-term rentals at massive downtown development

But there are also some difficult issues surrounding these rentals. These include parking, zoning and the effects of having tourist accommodations in residential neighbourhoods. Such issues need to be considered.

In addition, many communities in British Columbia are facing housing shortages. A unit rented as a short-term rental has the potential to bring in considerably more money than the same unit rented as a longer-term accommodation. However, each home or suite used for a short-term accommodation represents a unit that cannot be used by a permanent resident of the community. This in turn has consequences for the demographics of a community and for employers who are looking to hire help.

In Golden, the town has taken measures to limit short-term accommodations in that community.

The regulations determine the areas where short-term rentals are permitted. Short-term rentals are not allowed in residential areas.

Meanwhile, Revelstoke is proposing changes to the zoning bylaw to allow short-term rentals in all residential zones in the community. The Revelstoke policy includes a requirement to have someone permanently at the home to operate the rental in most areas.

Other communities, including Kelowna, West Kelowna and Penticton, have addressed short-term rentals in the past, although some, including Summerland, do not have policies in place on these rentals.

Eventually, all communities will need to address this issue, as short-term rentals become increasingly popular among tourists. The question is one of how to regulate these units.

The issue is complex, and there are multiple factors which must be considered. Any decision will have significant implications for a community.

— Black Press

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