City of Powell River council establishing regulations for Airbnb-type accommodations

Short-term vacation rental homes business licensing fee may drop under proposal

City of Powell River Council will consider halving the fee for so-called vacation rentals under the bylaws up for consideration for short-term rentals in the city.

At the Thursday, April 4, council meeting, mayor Dave Formosa said he wanted to amend the $2,000 fee for vacation rentals under the proposed amendment to the city’s business licence bylaw, to have the business licensing fee dropped to $1,000. Up for adoption at the council meeting, relating to short-term rentals, were the city’s business licence bylaw, the zoning bylaw and the municipal ticketing bylaw. The initiative to regulate short-term rentals in the city has undergone significant study and public engagement, with modifications to the bylaw proposal being made along the way.

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According to the city’s planning department, vacation rentals differ from short-term rentals in that vacation rentals are not someone’s primary residence, but instead, a vacation rental is someone’s investment property. A short-term rental is located in a principal residence. Theoretically, either a short-term rental or a vacation rental could be rented out as an entire dwelling. But, for a short-term rental, it would be when the owners are out of town or not using the home at that particular time.

There is a cap of 10 vacation rentals in City of Powell River and an unlimited number of short-term rentals permitted.

Formosa said he originally understood that with a vacation rental, if it had four bedrooms, there could be four different families renting it, similar to a motel with four different units in it.

“In actuality, there could be a three or four-bedroom house, but only one person pays the bill,” said Formosa. “It doesn’t mean that two or three families couldn’t enjoy it, but generally, the idea is it’s for one person to make the rental and it didn’t have the accelerated income that it could have.”

Formosa looked at the fee for short-term rentals, where a person rents out a portion of their home and the fee is $180.

“I thought there was a huge disparity here,” he said. “The disparity was too much for me. I propose that we take the single house and that we consider $1,000 instead of $2,000.”

Councillor Maggie Hathaway said the way it was explained was that people creating vacation rentals are creating a business but they don’t pay business tax and the $2,000 fee was to offset that discrepancy.

“If you run a business you pay business tax,” said Hathaway. “In this case they don’t pay business tax, they pay residential tax on their properties.”

Councillor Jim Palm said this is a complicated issue because there are so many facets to it and because it can’t please everyone in the rental market.

He said he supported the mayor’s drop in price proposal. He said he would drop it even further and make it $700.

“There’s only 10 units available,” he added. “It’s not a large number considering the number of visitors that we have coming.”

Palm suggested the situation be monitored and adjustments made accordingly.

Council moved that third reading of the City of Powell River business licence bylaw 2226, 2010 amendment bylaw 2538 2018 be repealed. The motion carried unanimously.

Council then voted to change the bylaw from $2,000 for the 10 vacation homes to $1,000. The motion carried unanimously.

The matter has been published as a public notice.

The zoning bylaw amendment and municipal ticketing information bylaws passed unanimously at council and the business licence bylaw will be up for final adoption on Thursday, April 18.

Copyright © Powell River Peak

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