Tofino passes motion to crack down on Airbnb rentals

Tofino city council has unanimously passed a motion to crack down on unlicensed short-term accommodations offered on websites like AirBnB.

Mayor Josie Osborne says all short-term accommodation rentals must be licensed

A quick search of Airbnb lists 273 properties available in the Tofino area. Tofino Council wants to enforce regulations on rentals because of a shortage of housing for residents and the seasonal workforce. (

Tofino city council has unanimously passed a motion to crack down on unlicensed short-term accommodations offered on websites like AirBnB. 

"I have no problem with AirBnB," said Tofino Mayor Josie Osborne. "What we're asking is that people have a valid business licence."

The small town on the west coast of Vancouver Island has a year-round population of about 2,000 residents, which Osborne says nearly quadruples with tourists in the summer. 

She says Tofino put regulations in place 10 years ago to address regulations around short-term rentals, including zoning and business licence requirements. 

But the mayor says when she last searched for Tofino listings on AirBnB, 273 properties came up — even though the city only issued 120 short-term rental business licences in 2014-2015. 

"Clearly there's a major discrepancy between how many properties are listing themselves and how many properties actually have business licences," she said.

Osborne says the first outcome of the decision will be for city staff to examine how to educate property owners about bylaws and enforcement.

The city will then look at potentially changing zoning requirements, and may put a limit on how many short-term accommodation licences it issues. 

She says many people have come forward to discuss the motion asking for fair treatment — including local hotels and other accommodations.

The issue came to the fore over concerns Tofino does not have enough affordable housing for either its seasonal workforce, or for its year-round residents on more modest incomes.

Osborne previously told CBC anecdotal evidence points to long-term rentals being turned into short-term ones, which she said is creating an unfair playing field.

To hear the full story, click the audio labelled: Tofino mayor says Airbnb rentals hurting housing supply

With files from Liam Britten


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