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Parksville requests exemption from short-term rental accommodations act

Mayor writes letter to minister of housing, lieutenant governor
Parksville mayor Doug O’Brien has written to the provincial government asking for a partial exemption from B.C.’s new Short-Term Rental Accommodations Act. (PQB News file photo)

Parksville has requested an exemption to the provincial government’s Short-Term Rental Accommodations Act for several of the city’s land-use designations.

Mayor Doug O’Brien wrote a letter to Lieutenant Governor Janet Austin and Minister of Housing Ravi Kahlon asking for the exemption in certain areas of the city.

“The request for exemption is for purpose-built vacation homes, or rentals that are in the area and we’ve identified it to the minister,” O’Brien said during council’s Dec. 18 meeting. “We’re certainly not against the main proponent of the STR (short-term rentals) accommodations act.”

The letter asks the province to 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.

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’s letter says the exemption is justifiable based on three factors.

“Firstly, the areas in question were never intended for long-term residential purposes and as a result, infrastructure was designed for temporary and seasonal tourism uses,” the letter says.

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

He added Parksville’s economy depends heavily on the tourism industry, which needs the areas for short-term visitor accommodations.

“Finally Parksville has already constructed enough residential units to satisfy observed historic and projected growth until 2026,” the letter says.

O’Brien continued in the letter that the mentioned OCP designations were never intended for long-term residents.

“This request is not an attempt to evade responsibility for ensuring a healthy housing market,” the letter says. “But rather a request that the Province recognize our community’s unique and varied accommodation needs.”

He also cited data from the Parksville Qualicum Beach Tourism Association that estimated 1,160,400 people visited the region in 2019 and contributed an estimated $190 million to the local economy.

O’Brien thanked city staff for putting together all the statistics that back up his letter.

Council voted unanimously to receive the letter for information.

-with a file from Wolf Depner

Kevin Forsyth

About the Author: Kevin Forsyth

As a lifelong learner, I enjoy experiencing new cultures and traveled around the world before making Vancouver Island my home.
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