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Parksville keeps battling for a break from B.C.'s new short-term-rental rules

So far, the province has shown no sign of budging on the new short-term-rental rules
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Parksville city hall. VIA GOOGLE MAPS

Parksville Mayor Doug O’Brien is promising to keep fighting for a group of waterfront cottage owners in the hopes of winning an exemption from upcoming short-term-rental rules.

But the province isn’t budging.

“I never give up,” O’Brien said Wednesday.

Late last year, he wrote to Housing Minister Ravi Kahlon asking for the exemption on behalf of a group of owners who have been renting their cabins and cottages on a short-term basis on what is known as Resort Row in Parksville.

As of May, these properties — and many others in the province — will fall under new restrictions stating short-term-rental units in communities with more than 10,000 people will be allowed only in the principal residence of the host, plus one secondary suite or laneway home. The Parksville owners do not live in the cottages but may stay in them for a few weeks in the summer, O’Brien said.

B.C. is aiming to decrease the number of short-term rentals in order to free them up to become long-term rental units.

No exemptions have been granted.

In a letter to O’Brien, Kahlon outlined the rules and rationale for the new short-term housing initiative, saying short-term rentals are diverting thousands of homes from the long-term rental market.

He pointed out planned exemptions that will cover some Parksville properties, such as those with fractional ownership. In Parksville’s case, many of the developments the city is expecting to be built may fall within exemptions to the new act, he said.

Kahlon did not directly refer to the Resort Row properties.

The Parksville owners bought their properties in an area zoned for purpose-built tourist commercial use, a unique designation, O’Brien said. About 75 units are affected — some brand-new, others dating back about two decades.

The city wanted the property owners to invest in the community and created the special zone for them to do so, O’Brien said.

He said the province is taking a “rather iron-handed approach” that doesn’t make sense.

The short-term-rental units support a year-round economy by using services such as cleaners, plumbers and other trades, he said. Visitors support local restaurants.

Parksville has become a winter destination for Canadian snowbirds who arrive from places such as Saskatchewan and Manitoba, he said.

No other properties in Parksville fall under the new short-term-rental regulations, as far as he knows.

“I think the legislation is not bad legislation. It just needs to be tweaked.”

O’Brien is planning on making his case again to Kahlon at the Union of B.C. Municipalities’ special housing summit running Feb. 13 and 14 in Vancouver.

The UBCM event is being held to address housing affordability, as well as examine the province’s moves to create more housing.

cjwilson@timescolonist.com

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