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Airbnb-type rental regulations adopted

An expedited temporary use permit system will allow some accessory units to be used for short-term rentals
Squamish/Howe Sound

Airbnb-type rentals on secondary units and suites are being banned, but the District is working on an application system that would allow vacation rentals in some of them

On Nov. 17, elected officials voted 6-1 in favour of adopting a set of bylaws that would allow residents to only host short-term rentals in a unit where they live and spend the majority of their time — at least five months out of a year.

Coun. Pettingill was the sole dissenting vote.

These regulations would also prevent hosts from posting their secondary suites — like coach houses and secondary suites — as vacation rentals, as the District wants these units to be reserved for the long-term rental market, given the current housing shortage.

There are also requirements to obtain a business licence, pay a licence fee, and comply with life safety requirements.

However, at that same meeting, council also held another 6-1 vote. This motion was in favour of directing staff to create an application system that would allow some hosts to put secondary suits and units on the vacation rental market. Again, Coun. Chris Pettingill was the sole dissenting vote.

Under this system, people may apply for expedited temporary use permits. Holders of these permits would be granted an exemption from the ban on vacation rentals on secondary suites.

“I think it gets us closer to, at least provides a clear pathway for some operators to legitimize, and it gives us an opportunity to see what that impact will be as we test and trial this,” said Coun. Jenna Stoner.

However, Stoner added that she’s still not sure if this is the best way to manage short-term rentals, as business licensing may have been a better alternative.

Pettingill said he was opposed and that business licences would be a simpler way to regulate the rentals, as the expedited temporary use permit system is more complex than it needs to be.

Coun. Armand Hurford, who supported the motion, said he believed a cautious approach would be best.

Mayor Karen Elliott also agreed on a conservative approach and said that there shouldn’t be an unlimited amount of permits granted.

On the other hand, she said she wanted to help the tourism economy deal with the blows that COVID-19 has dealt it.

Criteria should be focused on the impact the rentals will have on neighbours, she said, while noting this measure was an “experiment.”

The expedited temporary use permit policy is expected to be finalized before the short-term rental regulations are enforced proactively, which is expected to be around April 2021.

Proactive enforcement involves local government going above and beyond a reactive complaints-based enforcement system.