Some residents in the Parksville Qualicum Beach region are asking local governments to crack down on some short-term rentals that do not conform to existing bylaws.
Town of Qualicum Beach council recently received correspondence from a resident who raised concerns about the negative impact short-term vacation rentals are having on the availability of, as well as pricing of long-term rental housing. He wants the town to take action similar to the initiatives taken by the City of Nanaimo and the Village of Cumberland.
“It is my hope, and wish, that the Town of Qualicum Beach does more than just lip service on the subject of rental availability in our town,” the resident stated in his letter. “Studying, reviewing, licensing short-term rentals would be a start.”
Coun. Teunis Westbroek suggested the town should review the City of Nanaimo bylaw and explore the possibility of applying something similar to Qualicum Beach.
“So that in the region we have some common thread as to how we deal with these issues,” said Westbroek. “Of course, it’s not that they’re against bed and breakfast but I think they need to be on a level playing field and also how it affects people who need a place to live while they work in our area.”
The issue, Coun. Scott Harrison said, was discussed by council in 2019 and was considering establishing a business licence policy. He asked staff why nothing happened since then.
Town planner Luke Sales explained council made a decision to not permit short-term vacation rentals but had directed staff to develop a regulatory system to permit them. Due to other priorities that have come up, Sales said they didn’t have time.
Sales said as a starting point, they can refer to the City of Nanaimo for information to help them establish a regulatory system for the town.
“It would save a lot of the leg work,” said Sales.
Westbroek made a motion requesting staff to bring forward at the next council meeting a copy of the City of Nanaimo’s bylaws and policies on short-term vacation rentals. It was amended by Coun. Anne Skipsey to include the report from the Union of BC Municipalities on short-term rentals that was released on June 2021. Council passed the motion unanimously.
Westbroek said he wants the report done before the summer.
In other areas, a Nanoose Bay resident has questioned the RDN why it has failed to fully enforced the bylaws on illegal short-term rentals. Keith Jensen spoke about the issue as a delegation before the RDN board at its regular meeting on April 12.
“I am concerned about what illegal short-term rentals are doing in our community,” said Jensen. “I am concerned that people illegally renting out short-term rentals are profiting at the expense of our community. And I am concerned about the many other unintended consequences resulting from the failure of the RDN to enforce short-term rental bylaws.”
The Nanoose Bay resident cited other municipalities that include City of Victoria and the City of Nanaimo have recently taken action on illegal short-term rentals. He wants the RDN to do the same.
Jensen said if there are not enough bylaw officers, then the RDN should hire more full-time or part-time staff. He suggested the fines should be levied to pay for the cost of the extra staffing required. He highlighted the difficult process involved in filing complaints.
Manager of building and bylaw services Tom Armet indicated the RDN does investigate illegal short-term rentals. He said they currently have 11 cases actively being investigated.
“It’s not a great number but we do get them on an annual basis,” said Armet.