Nanaimo residents asked for input on how city should manage short-term rental properties

·2 min read
The City of Nanaimo is asking residents for input on short-term vacation rentals. (Steve Lawrence/CBC - image credit)
The City of Nanaimo is asking residents for input on short-term vacation rentals. (Steve Lawrence/CBC - image credit)

People living in Nanaimo, B.C., have the opportunity to have a say in how vacation rentals are managed in a survey launched by the municipality.

With the number of short-term rentals increasing, the City of Nanaimo wants feedback on both landlords' and renters' experiences with vacation rentals.

Since 2017, the number of short-term rentals has increased from 416 to 549, Mayor Leonard Krog said.

"That's why the city is looking at the potential bylaw that is out there for public discussion and comment," Krog said on CBC's The Early Edition. "Is it having a negative impact on the rental situation generally?"

The survey asks residents to comment on proposed bylaw changes, which include allowing short-term rentals in all zones; allowing short-term rental of an entire home provided the rental operator lives in the home the majority of the year; and requiring a business license for short-term rentals.

The City of Vancouver introduced similar regulations in 2018 after Airbnb listings came under scrutiny for their potential role in taking rental housing off the market.

According to a municipal new release, Nanaimo's rental vacancy rate of one per cent is well below the five per cent threshold indicator of a healthy rental housing market.

Krog says the bylaw changes are an attempt to strike a balance between keeping neighbourhoods affordable while still allowing homeowners some vacation rental opportunities that can help pay for a mortgage.

"I mean, right now, you could be turning over somebody every night in a nice, quiet suburban neighborhood; strangers coming into the neighborhood constantly," said Krog.

"In other cases, you've got people looking for, say, 30 or 60 days. The impact on traffic, the impact on the neighbour — all of those things are what we're looking at."

The mayor says the municipality will likely end up requiring short-term rental operators to be licensed and pay the municipal and regional district taxes, which contribute to tourism advertising.

"If you're going to be part of the tourism game … you should pay to play, so to speak," Krog said.

While the hospitality industry is currently in a lull due to the pandemic, Krog says it's important to think about how the city wants to manage vacation rentals before demand picks up again.

The surveys are available online on the city's public engagement website until May 10.