Charlottetown looking for 'sweet spot' in short-term rental bylaw
Planning committee chair says bylaw must consider tourism benefits as well as housing shortage
The chair of Charlottetown's planning committee says he hopes the city will have a bylaw in place by summer to regulate short-term rentals such as Airbnb.
Coun. Greg Rivard said the committee is working on a bylaw, but is waiting on the province to give municipalities the legislation to regulate short-term rentals.
"Once that happens, then we would move forward with some kind of bylaw and that will have to go through the public consultation phase and we'll meet with the stakeholders and hopefully get it right the first time," he said.
Short-term rentals have grown significantly on P.E.I. in recent years. Airbnb says hosts on P.E.I. earned $11 million in 2018. Meanwhile, the apartment vacancy rate in Charlottetown and P.E.I. has plummeted to almost zero per cent.
A spokesperson for P.E.I.'s Federation of Municipalities told CBC it has requested that the province amend legislation this spring to "provide clear authority" for municipalities to regulate the short-term rental market.
We're hoping that when we do get it done that it's done right.— Charlottetown Coun. Greg Rivard
P.E.I.'s Department of Economic Development and Tourism said at present, short-term rentals such as Airbnb are required to follow the same provincial licence application and inspection process as followed by all other types of accommodations.
While the province monitors shared accommodation sites like Airbnb to ensure compliance, it said operators are asked to get zoning approval from the municipality where the property is located.
The province said it would like to see a more formal process, however, and is "working collaboratively with municipalities, planning officials and tourism officials to determine what legislative and bylaw changes may be required to properly license, and seek compliance from, these types of accommodations. This work is ongoing."
Can't 'choke them out'
Rivard said the city has looked at bylaws in other municipalities and is considering what works best for Charlottetown.
He said short-term rentals can be good for tourism and a viable alternative to hotels, especially for large families, but the city must also consider the housing shortage when it comes to apartments.
"We can't have a knee jerk reaction to regulate them and choke them out, the short-term rentals," Rivard said.
"At the same time, to have nothing in place I don't think is the right answer, either. We're going to try to find that sweet spot. It's going to take a lot of work from planning staff, it's going to take a lot of consultation from the public but we're hoping that when we do get it done, that it's done right."
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With files from Laura Meader and Kerry Campbell