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Parksville’s Resort Drive will be exempt from Short-Term Rental Accommodations Act

MLA says ‘no guarantee’ from province exemption will happen
Tanglewood Place in the resort area of Parksville. (Contributed photo)

Resort Drive in Parksville will be exempt from the province’s Short-Term Rental Accommodations Act, according to the Ministry of Housing.

The new regulations come into effect May 1 and are expected to include an exemption from the principal-residence requirement for certain strata-titled hotels and motels, so they can continue to operate, the province clarified in a March 27 news release.

The news came as a relief for Jacqueline Pirie, one of the approximately 400 impacted owners on Resort Drive.

“I feel cautiously optimistic that the government made the right decision,” said Pirie, who advocated on behalf of the Resort Drive Advocacy Group, which has approximately 200 members.

Pirie added the wording of the amendment in the press release is difficult to interpret, but at least she “might have a good night’s sleep tonight”.

Parksville Mayor Doug O’Brien said the decision will mean the preservation of jobs in the local economy.

“It’s really good news because there was a lot of consternation with the people not sure whether they can expect visitors this summer,” he said. “They’ve got a lot of bookings that are already booked and so they were not looking forward to having to cancel all those.”

The Short-Term Rental Accommodations Act 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 includes an enforcement unit and toughens penalties for violators.

Housing minister Ravi Kahlon said the province took its time to put the regulations in place because strata hotels have complex and varied economic models.

“Today’s information that we put out ensures that strata hotels in particular around Parksville and Kelowna and Vernon, can continue to support tourism,” he said. “But our overall goal of getting more housing back into the housing market will still continue.”

Kahlon added the ministry worked closely with Parksville city staff throughout the process.

READ MORE: Parksville requests exemption from short-term rental accommodations act

O’Brien appreciated that the ministry kept an open mind and kept the conversation going over the past several months.

“It’s a very unique tourism built accommodation area, unlike most places in the rest of the province,” he said. “We’ve been advocating for this for a few months, with a lot of desperate people out on Resort Drive.”

Strata hotels and motels will be exempt as long as they meet one of two criteria — one being operated in “a manner similar to a hotel or motel” before Dec. 8, 2023, such as a staffed front desk on site, according to the province’s release.

The other criterion is if the unit was being provided in a manner similar to a hotel or motel, and more than one strata lot on the property is not able to be used as a principal residence by anyone due to a restriction under zoning, a rental management agreement between the manager and an owner of a strata lot or a restrictive covenant or a covenant under section 219 of the Land Title Act.

Indepedent Parksville Qualicum MLA Adam Walker said there is “no guarantee” the changes will be made to the regulation and criticized the lack of details.

“We are still hearing from property owners that even today are still getting phone calls from the Island and from across the world that are cancelling bookings,” Walker said. “Because there’s too much uncertainty for people, when they’re spending a lot of money to come visit our area.”

He added his office has reached out to the housing ministry with questions about the regulation that remain unanswered, with May 1 quickly approaching and people concerned for their livelihoods.

“That is incredibly frustrating,” Walker said. “I mean depending on how this rolls out, it could cost our local tourism industry over $10 million a year, that is completely unacceptable.”

Pirie said the Resort Drive Advocacy Group is thankful for advocacy by O’Brien, city council and Walker.

She pointed out the Resort Drive short term rentals will be used by people attending numerous events such as weddings, celebrations of life and family reunions.

“This decision makes sense,” Pirie said. “It’s even the name of the street [Resort Drive], like it’s such a no-brainer for them, so I feel like the government is moving in the right direction.”

– 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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