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Parksville ramps up bid for exemption from new short-term rental rules

Housing Minister Ravi Kahlon is in conversations with concerned residents and the mayor.
Parksville Mayor Doug O’Brien says Resort Drive housing units were built exclusively as tourist accommodation and were never intended to be long-term rentals. VIA GOOGLE MAPS

The mayor of Parksville and a group of property owners who invested in tourism-zoned developments will send letters to three provincial cabinet ministers and Premier David Eby seeking an exemption from new short-term rental laws in B.C.

On Wednesday, Parksville Mayor Doug O’Brien said he had just met the Resort Drive Advocacy Group representing the owners of 289 purpose-built short-term vacation homes adjacent to Rathtrevor Beach Provincial Park.

It’s the latest effort by the municipality to change the province’s mind about including the properties under upcoming short-term-rental rules.

O’Brien wrote to Housing Minister Ravi Kahlon late last year seeking relief for the same group of owners, but no exemptions were granted for those properties.

As of May 1, when B.C.’s Short-Term Rental Accommodation Act comes into effect, the owners will need to either move into the units full-time or rent them out for more than three months at a time.

O’Brien said all Resort Drive housing units were built exclusively as tourist accommodation and were never intended to be long-term rentals.

“Parksville has a very unique situation with these purpose-built vacation homes,” he said, adding most were fully booked for the next 12 months. “We are asking for a relaxation only for this small area.”

The mayor and homeowner’s group will be sending letters to Eby and Kahlon, tourism minister Lana Popham and municipal affairs minister Anne Kang, asking for an exemption.

O’Brien said he was able to highlight the issue at the Union of B.C. Municipalities Housing Summit in mid-February and the government was “in listening mode.”

A spokesperson for Kahlon said the minister was aware of the issue in Parksville and was open to meeting with representatives.

On May 1 across B.C., with the exception of some resort communities like Whistler and the Gulf Islands, anyone operating a short-term rental in a location of more than 10,000 persons must declare that address as their primary residence.

And the owner or renter, with permission, can only take in short-term renters in that principal residence and one secondary suite or accessory dwelling unit such as a laneway house or garage suite.

The government’s goal is to return housing units to the long-term rental market to improve rental affordability by increasing supply.

- with a file from Carla Wilson, Times Colonist