Charlottetown pleased with Toronto appeal decision on short-term rentals

Those writing a new bylaw to regulate short-term rentals in Charlottetown are breathing a sigh of relief after a recent tribunal decision on Toronto's bylaw. 

An Ontario provincial tribunal ruled in favour of Toronto's plan on Nov. 18, nearly two years after the city first approved the new rules.

Under Toronto's rules, short-term rentals would only be allowed in a landlord's primary residence, with a limit of 180 rental nights per year for an entire house or apartment. Homeowners could also rent up to three bedrooms year-round on a short-term basis — defined as less than 28 days.

Those rules are something Charlottetown has been watching closely and the city's chair of planning said the fact that the tribunal ruled in favour of Toronto's regulations is promising. Charlottetown delayed its bylaw until March of 2020 and Coun. Greg Rivard said one of the reasons behind the delay was that the city wanted to see the outcome of Toronto's tribunal. 

"Toronto was trying to implement a number of new regulations that were above and beyond what Vancouver would have done originally," said Rivard. 

"For other municipalities looking to regulate, such as ourselves, it just adds more regulations to the ever-growing pot that municipalities can pick from in order to kind of build their own bylaw." 

Draft getting closer

Rivard said many options are on the table at the moment and the city is getting closer to finishing a first draft.

Tina Lovgreen/CBC

"Staff are coming up with a couple of options for council to review, one of them of course is with the principal dwelling unit," Rivard said.

The city would also have to weigh the impact on the tourism industry, he said, something that he hopes an expert can help with. 

Charlottetown will be bringing in David Wachsmuth, an expert on short-term rentals from McGill University, to delve deeper into the data.

Housing advocates pleased

That news is welcomed by the an Island group that has been advocating for a bylaw in Charlottetown.

"I think that's great that they see that precedent being set as being hopeful for us," said Aimee Power with the P.E.I. Fight for Affordable Housing. 

"We were disappointed to see the delay at first obviously, but if it does mean we're getting the experts in … that's actually a really good thing for us. So let's take that time and make it right."

Natalia Goodwin/CBC

Rivard said the city has been in preliminary talks with the province and looks forward to how P.E.I.'s potential new bill around short-term rentals — which is in the house now — will effect the city's bylaw.

That bill would require short-term rental websites to start sharing data with government around how many listings they have in the province and how often they're rented out.

"It'll be interesting to see, you know, how ours plays out and maybe we do have regulations in place also that talks about sharing of information from some of the platforms," Rivard said.

The bylaw will go to public consultation and may be edited before final adoption.

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