Regional District of Nanaimo staff looking into costs, benefits of rentals

Short-term vacation rentals currently not permitted in electoral areas

Regional District of Nanaimo staff will be looking into the costs and benefits of business licences for short-term vacation rentals in the electoral areas.

The motion for staff to prepare a report detailing the costs and benefits of a business licensing regime for the RDN electoral areas, including a stakeholder engagement and implementation strategy, passed with Electoral Area F Director Julian Fell opposing it.

At a previous meeting, RDN noted a significant growth in short-term vacation rental (STVR) units and that it wanted to regulate them for the immediate term. It’s an initiative the RDN has been co-ordinating with the City of Parksville, Town of Qualicum Beach and the Parksville Qualicum Beach Tourism Association, which brought its concerns to the attention of the regional district.

RELATED: RDN to regulate short-term vacation rentals

While bed-and-breakfast units are permitted under the RDN’s home-based business regulation, STVRs are not permitted in the electoral areas. The Jan. 23 agenda states, “to acknowledge the reality of this emerging industry, while also considering available regulatory tools; impacts on neighbourhoods; and local housing supply and affordability, a flexible and adaptable approach to regulating STVRs is proposed for the immediate term.”

Earlier in the discussions, Fell made a motion to amend the written motion, adding that the motion should apply only to electoral areas “that may want it.”

“I can assure you, my electoral area doesn’t want it,” Fell said.

Director Bill McKay (Nanaimo) asked Fell how he determines who does or doesn’t want a business licensing regime.

“You get a measure of the sentiment of your community by the number of people who stop you and chew you out over it,” Fell said.

RDN board chair and Director Bill Veenhof said he’s thrown out the idea to his community, Electoral Area H.

“While the response isn’t coming back in any sort of overwhelming reaction, all the responses coming back are positive,” Veenhof said.

Director Teunis Westbroek of Qualicum Beach said it would be helpful if the RDN was consistent on whether or not it supports STVRs.

Director Bob Rogers (Electoral Area E) said he understands where Fell is coming from, but the motion is just a request for staff to prepare a report looking at the costs and benefits of business licensing for short-term vacation rentals, while also identifying the challenges, pitfalls and concerns.

“I think the motion as it stands right now, without the amendment, gives us some direction to staff to say what we’re looking for is a report on the impact and on the desirability, or lack thereof, of business licences in respect to short-term vacation rentals.”

Fell’s motion to amend the original motion to electoral areas “that may want it” failed.

with files from Michael Briones

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