City of Powell River considers limiting short-term rentals

Council seeks information on number of licences available under new bylaw

Homeowners in Powell River who are considering listing their homes for short-term rental on Airbnb and similar platforms should know the rules by March, if not sooner.

According to City of Powell River senior planner Daniella Fergusson, council sent a December report back to staff primarily concerned with wanting more information on how many licences for short-term rentals will be allowed under new bylaws.

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Fergusson said it became clear that if a cap of 50 licences, which was recommended in the first draft bylaw, is oversubscribed it creates problems in the application and approval process.

“The draft bylaw said it should be done by lottery, but the big issue is, if you have a licence one year and there's a lottery there's no guarantee that you get it again the next year,” said Fergusson. “If you're taking bookings in the fall for the spring, it's really hard to plan your business around that.”

Fergusson said there are currently about 57 short-term listings online for Powell River. The question of why short-term rentals would not be permitted in condominiums also needs to be answered, she added.

Short-term rentals will only be allowed in the owner's primary residence and, because it is on a residential property as an accessory use of the home, resident taxes will apply, according to Fergusson.

In addition to licensing, council asked the planning department to look at a property tax rate comparison.  

“Short-term rentals are really a commercial operation that's happening,” said Fergusson. “What would it look like if the home was paying a commercial rate tax instead of a residential rate tax?”

Operators will also face the provincial Municipal and Regional District Tax (MRDT) of two per cent in the Sunshine Coast region, which is applied to short-term rentals designated by zoning area. Revenue from the tax goes to local tourism marketing, programs and projects, and affordable housing.

The MRDT is in addition to the eight per cent PST on accommodation.

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