PEI

Restricting short-term rentals part of Charlottetown affordable housing plan

The City of Charlottetown has laid out more specifics on how it will tackle the affordable housing issue plaguing the city.

City presented proposed regulations at public meeting Wednesday night

City staff have been busy since September writing the amendments. (Tom Steepe/CBC)

The City of Charlottetown has laid out more specifics on how it will tackle the affordable housing issue plaguing the city. 

In September, the city passed the  Affordable Housing Incentive Program. Since then, the planning department has been working on the amendments to the planning bylaw that could make those incentives a reality. Those amendments were presented at a public meeting Wednesday night. 

One regulation many in the city were waiting for was for short-term rentals. 

The amendments state that both secondary (formally known as accessory) suites and garden suites will not be allowed to be used as short-term rentals. The changes also define short-term to 30 days and under, a number which staff said many other jurisdictions have gone with. 

One person in the crowd asked how it would be policed. 

Brian Gillis questions how the city will police short-term rentals. (Natalia Goodwin/CBC)

"The language is not going to do it.," said Brian Gillis

"It's creeped in, without any recognition of what the rules are, and it's invasive in terms of quality of neighbourhoods and it's invasive in displacing housing units that are decreasing the available units for rent."

The city said that another set of regulations are being worked on specifically in dealing with short-term rentals, like Airbnb. Those regulations will include enforcement ideas, which staff is working on with the province. There was no timeline as to when those regulations would be ready. 

Bonus density for developers

The new rules would allow developers to increase their density by 20 per cent over the specific zone requirements, if all additional units are affordable. The city currently allows developers bonuses when they would provide certain trade offs, such as public art space, or extra landscaping. 

"We just decided that since affordable housing is such a major issue with the city of Charlottetown, that that should be included within those provisions," said Robert Zilke, urban planner for Charlottetown

Robert Zilke, urban planner with the city, says he hopes the amendments can create positive change. (Natalia Goodwin/CBC )

 "So essentially, if you're going for bonusing and you want additional units, why couldn't they be affordable." he said 

If the development included underground parking and affordable units, the increase could be to 40 per cent. 

Bonus heights would be allowed also, at the discretion of staff and the planning committee.

Design review required 

New affordable housing projects would have to go through a design review process, but the city would pay for the cost review, which has to be done by an independent architect. Zilke explained that was to take away a barrier for developers.

"Essentially we just wanted to make sure that good quality buildings are produced for affordable housing. And adjacent property owners, and adjacent properties as well, their values aren't diminished," he said

"In fact it can blend in well and it can be, actually a boon to the neighbourhood." 

Another idea was to cut parking requirements for new affordable developments, but only if the units were within 500 metres of a bus stop. 

The amendments will now go back to planning board, then are expected to be voted on by  council at the February meeting. 

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About the Author

Natalia Goodwin

Video Journalist

Natalia is a video journalist in P.E.I. She has also worked for CBC N.L.

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