Pemberton to educate Airbnb operators 

Listings on short-term rental website contravene local bylaws, Village says

click to enlarge SHUTTERSTOCK PHOTO - cracking down The Village of Pemberton is seeking to educate owenrs of Airbnb listings in the community.
  • shutterstock photo
  • cracking down The Village of Pemberton is seeking to educate owenrs of Airbnb listings in the community.

If you're one of the many homeowners within Village of Pemberton (VOP) boundaries with a listing on short-term rental website Airbnb, you can expect a visit from the local bylaw officer in coming weeks.

At the Dec. 1 council meeting, Coun. Ted Craddock served Notice of Motion to have bylaw enforcement visit local Airbnb listings to "explain and educate that they are operating in contravention of our zoning bylaws and must cease operating immediately."

While the VOP will be examining each Airbnb on a case-by-case basis to consider the specific circumstances of each, there are two key bylaws that they must conform with: the VOP's Zoning Bylaw No. 466, 2011 and its Business License Bylaw No. 751, 2014.

"In offering nightly room stays to transient guests for compensation, Airbnbs are essentially operating as hotels/motels. This use requires appropriate commercial zoning... and a minimum number of parking spaces," reads a statement emailed to Pique from the VOP.

Bed and breakfasts are also subject to different provisions in the VOP zoning bylaw, "notably that the principal use remains a family residence, that the family or a member of it engages in the operation of the B&B, a parking space must be provided, a meal must be served, and no more than two bedrooms in the dwelling unit shall be used for bed and breakfast accommodation," the statement reads.

"At present, many of the known Airbnbs in Pemberton contravene at least one, if not several, of the regulations above."

Also, while unregulated, Airbnbs are technically still businesses, meaning they require a business license to operate, the statement said.

In a follow-up phone call, Pemberton Mayor Mike Richman said the move is mostly about education.

"I think a lot of people don't necessarily understand that there are negative impacts to doing a short-term rental," Richman said, listing adverse effects to the supply of rental housing as just one negative effect.

In its statement, the VOP said the regulations are "in place to protect the desirability and livability of neighbourhoods, minimizing strain on Village infrastructure and associated costs to taxpayers."

The first step is to send letters and inform, but Airbnbs could be shut down if they refuse to comply, Richman said.

"We can revisit and shut down their operation," he said.

In the case of Airbnbs operating on stratified properties, Richman said the VOP will be reaching out to strata councils to ask for their help in getting the message across.

The hope is that Airbnb operators will be understanding.

"We're hoping that once they recognize a little more some of the impacts, that hopefully people will either shut down or come in and try to get a business license or do it above board, so to speak."

Anyone hoping to make their bed and breakfast operation legitimate can visit or call the VOP office, Richman said.

"Currently residential (zoning) does allow for a person to come in and get a business license and operate up to two bedrooms as long as they live there and serve food," Richman said.

"We're trying to level the playing field and make it fair for those that are doing business with a license, with the proper zoning, paying their taxes," he added.

"We want to level that playing field, but we also want to help, so if people are interested, we're there to help them through the process."

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