Housing advocates want Charlottetown's STR regulation to have 'enforcement that has teeth'

·2 min read
Robert Zilke, a planner with the City of Charlottetown, says while the city wants to follow through with regulation, STRs do have their place.  (Sheehan Desjardins/CBC - image credit)
Robert Zilke, a planner with the City of Charlottetown, says while the city wants to follow through with regulation, STRs do have their place. (Sheehan Desjardins/CBC - image credit)

A new report from Charlottetown's department of planning and heritage has some suggestions on how to regulate short-term rentals (STRs).

The report breaks down several options for change, such as a municipal registry, no more using apartments as STRs and rules limiting short-term rentals to an owner's primary residence.

The organization P.E.I. Fight For Affordable Housing says those are steps in the right direction.

The group's tenant co-ordinator, Conor Kelly, says while the recommendations are good they will need to be enforced.

Sheehan Desjardin/CBC
Sheehan Desjardin/CBC

"The biggest thing for me is that it can't just be regulation, it can't just be a registry, it has to be backed up with enforcement that has teeth," he said.

"Really sharp teeth, because it's really gotten out of control in Charlottetown and needs to be like really curbed down."

Out of 635 short-term rental listings in Charlottetown, the report says only 265 are properly registered with Tourism P.E.I. That means over half don't comply with provincial rules.

Robert Zilke, a planner with the City of Charlottetown, said while the city wants to follow through with regulation, they admit STRs do have their place.

Sheehan Desjardins/CBC
Sheehan Desjardins/CBC

"We know that housing is one of the important issues here locally and STRs do play a role in the housing market," Zilke said.

"So we're basically forming to look at the data, look at what residents have told us and then hopefully pursue an STR regulatory framework."

It's a big business

The report makes clear the money-making potential of STRs. It says about 400 hosts made a total of $8.5 million in 2019 alone.

But housing advocates like Kelly say that with the number of short term rentals growing nearly eight per cent each year, finding a longer-term place to live can be difficult.

Sheehan Desjardin/CBC
Sheehan Desjardin/CBC

"They are making tons of money from it and people are struggling to find homes. As a result, it comes down to, like, are people more important than profit? Or are profits more important than people? You have to pick a side on it. There is no real middle ground."

The report will now go to city council and the planning board.

After that, there might be a public meeting later this fall to gather reaction.

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