December 10, 2023

Reaction is pouring in following Monday’s announcement that the B.C. government is introducing legislation to crack down on short-term rentals in the province.

B.C. Premier David Eby said Tuesday that one of the biggest challenges facing people in major cities has been the lack of housing for workers who are employed in restaurants and tourist attractions, which support the tourism industry.

“The tourism industry can’t function without tourism workers,” Eby said.

“And those workers need somewhere to live. We believe that local governments are in a good position to be able to, especially in our rural areas, regional districts and smaller centres, to be able to determine what that balance is between short-term rental and permanent housing, which is why we empower them with tools to be able to do that in bigger cities.”

However, representatives from the tourism industry are concerned that with a reduction in short-term rentals, such as Airbnb or VRBO, visitors will be kept away.

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“We don’t have enough hotel rooms to begin with in Vancouver specifically,” Ian Tostenson, president of the B.C. Restaurant and Food Services Association said. “So when we take these short-term rentals out of the market… Where are we going to accommodate the people that are coming to Vancouver?”

Click to play video: 'B.C. government to crack down on short-term rentals'

B.C. government to crack down on short-term rentals

Eby said there has been a 20-per cent increase in Airbnb listings in a single year during a “massive housing crisis.”

Under the new rules, when passed, British Columbians will legally only be able to rent out a primary residence and one more additional secondary suite as a short-term rental.

But the legislation does not provide a blanket ban on these rentals and smaller municipalities are not included.

Canada’s deputy prime minister, Chrystia Freeland, said Tuesday that B.C.’s proposed legislation is a “positive and important step in the right direction.

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“We know that short-term rental sites like Airbnb and VRBO mean fewer homes for Canadians to rent and live in full-time, especially in urban and populated areas of our country. That is why our government is actively examining what options and tools exist at the federal level to ensure more short-term rentals are made available as long-term rentals, as permanent homes, for Canadians to live in.”

Freeland said there will be more details announced in the coming weeks.

Click to play video: 'Deputy PM on B.C.’s short term rental legislation'

Deputy PM on B.C.’s short term rental legislation

Eby said the province is trying to strike the right balance when it comes to the short-term rental market.

However, one Airbnb host told Global News that most people who stay in short-term rentals do so because hotels are so expensive.

“If they can afford to stay at a modestly priced home, they can spend more money on tourism activities,” host Rhona McAdam told Global News.

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