Calgary

Calgarians who rent their properties on Airbnb could soon face new regulations

Calgary city councillors are supporting the development of a bylaw to deal with short-term rentals offered through services like Airbnb but the details are still being finalized.

Short-term rental bylaw in the works, but exact details are still being finalized

Calgarians who offer properties for rent on Airbnb and other short-term rental services may soon face new regulations from the city. (Robson Fletcher/CBC)

Calgary city councillors are supporting the development of a bylaw to deal with short-term rentals offered through services like Airbnb but the details are still being finalized.

City staff estimate that there are nearly 6,000 properties available for short-term rental in Calgary, through a variety of means.

The growth in their popularity has been creating concerns in some communities, condo buildings and among the traditional businesses they compete against.

A city committee heard feedback Wednesday from people who would be affected by the bylaw, including Airbnb operators who said their short-term rentals shouldn't be treated like hotels because they operate on a much smaller scale.

Tracy Douglas-Blowers with the Alberta Hotel and Lodging Association told the committee she sees no problem with people offering up a room or a bed, but many Airbnb operators go beyond that and may need more rules.

"Savvy operators are turning homesharing into a new class of investment, converting residential units into ghost hotels, avoiding the normal costs of doing business and creating additional demands on municipal resources like police, waste management and bylaw enforcement," she said.

A CBC News analysis of Airbnb listings data earlier this year found major, corporate operators in other Canadian cities who have dozens if not hundreds of properties for rent but present themselves online as individuals.

The analysis showed Calgary, however, was on the low end of large Canadian cities when it comes to Airbnb operators with multiple listings for rent.

The city committee endorsed the development of a new short-term rental bylaw but the details still need to be worked out before it's put to a vote at city council later this year.

Coun. Diane Colley-Urquhart says some of the suggestions councillors heard Wednesday should be considered and incorporated into the bylaw that ultimately comes before council. 

"The policies, the process, the type of applications that people will have to make and all that will come back before the end of the year," she said. "So, we're assured that that will happen."

Alexandra Dagg, director of public policy for Airbnb in Canada, told CBC News earlier this week the company is OK with the city's plans.

"We welcome the City of Calgary's move toward regulating home-sharing and look forward to continuing to support the city through this new chapter of regulation," Dagg said in an emailed statement.

The city has set a tentative start date of Feb. 1, 2020 for the new rules.

You can read more about the specifics of the proposed regulations in this previous story.

With files from Scott Dippel

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