Charlottetown short-term rental rules 'in limbo' as public meeting put off due to pandemic
'This would be a large public gathering'
The City of Charlottetown won't be holding a public meeting on the proposed short-term rental bylaw anytime soon.
Back in March, city staff presented five options for regulating short-term rentals in Charlottetown. Those recommendations were presented to the planning board, and a public meeting was tentatively scheduled for the end of that month, said Coun. Mike Duffy, chair of planning and heritage for the city.
But, that meeting was put on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
"It's in limbo. It's sitting there, it's ready to go. We're anxious to get it going. But health is the number one consideration and we always comply with those restrictions," said Duffy.
"So that's what we're waiting for, those to be eased back or lifted altogether. And we'll have another go at it."
We want to be thorough.— Coun. Mike Duffy
Currently, public health restrictions in the province only allow for a maximum of two cohorts of 50 people to attend an organized gathering. Since the pandemic began, the most people that could come together for an organized gathering was 150, or three cohorts.
And that just isn't enough for this particular public meeting, said Duffy.
"We're looking at, you know, between 300 and 400 people at that particular meeting," he said.
"There's people in every corner of the city [who] have an opinion on short-term rentals."
'Summer would be premature'
One of those people is Aimee Power, with the P.E.I. Fight For Affordable Housing group. She said she understands the city wanting to include as many people as possible in this particular public meeting, but said waiting until a large gathering can happen might not be realistic.
"Will we be able to have 300 people in a room even in six months from now? Very possibly not. So I think we're going to have to get a little bit creative, see maybe what other cities are doing and do a combination of maybe a few smaller public meetings," she said.
Power said she thinks the city could also allow people to write or email their comments in.
Coun. Duffy said right now, the city is just going to wait until they can host a large gathering.
"We want to be thorough. We want to make it as convenient as possible for people to be heard," he said.
"When the meeting does occur. We want no one to leave saying they hadn't been heard or they hadn't been heard to the extent they wish to be."
Duffy said the short-term rental bylaw is his number one priority as chair of planning and heritage, but said he doesn't expect to see regulations put in place anytime soon.
"I think this summer would be premature. I mean, there's a lot of work to do even after the large public meeting is held.… If I was the estimator of note, I probably would say maybe a year from this April," he said.
"That would be a goal we could work toward. Whether we attain it or not, that would remain to be seen."