City, province need to work together on Airbnb, says youth board member
'I don't think we claim to know what the answer is'
A member of Charlottetown's Youth Retention Advisory Board says the city and province should work together on finding solutions to address short-term rental services like Airbnb.
Alex Youland said conducting more research will give the situation greater clarity, in an interview with CBC News: Compass guest-host Steve Bruce.
"I think first we have to do a little more research, understand who is using these services, how many homes are being taken off the rental market, how many homes are being used for Airbnb but were never going to be on the rental market in general," he said.
'Understanding the effects'
The city presented its draft housing document to committee last week, on the heels of the province announcing its housing action plan.
"I think as a province and as a city, we need to do a better job of understanding the effects that sharing services like Airbnb and VRBO have on the current housing market and how that affects not just our young people, but our residents of the province in general," Youland said.
The advisory board released the results of its housing survey in April, and there were both positive and negative comments about Airbnb, he said.
Some people were able to afford their first home because of supplemental income from renting out their unit.
"We think it's important not to penalize those people for necessarily taking advantage of these types of services," Youland said. "It's just looking at different ways, maybe outcomes that we can generate through collaborative thinking between both the province and the municipalities of P.E.I."
But the solutions aren't readily apparent, Youland said.
"I don't think we claim to know what the answer is to solve these issues that are reflective of these sharing services, but we do believe P.E.I. [has] a unique opportunity to be a leader for other provinces across the country in how we react."
'They do need a place to live'
He cited B.C.'s deal with Airbnb, which sees an eight per cent provincial sales tax being added to transactions and used by the province to fund affordable housing.
P.E.I.'s down payment assistance program, which will provide up to five per cent of the cost of a home for first-time buyers, is a step in the right direction, Youland said.
"I think there's a lot of young people that want to stay on Prince Edward Island and make P.E.I. their home ... but to do so, they do need a place to live," he said.
"If we do a little more research on issues like this and find some strategic plans we can do at both levels of government, we can certainly work together to solve these issues."
More P.E.I. news
With files from Steve Bruce