City of Powell River staff and council should be applauded for their intention to limit the scope of short-term rentals in Powell River [“Staff propose limitations to short-term rentals,” August 31]. This is a very big issue in many communities and an important one that, if not handled well, can lead to long-term consequences.
Powell River is becoming a destination for tourists like never before, and that makes it even more important to establish good ground rules. We encourage tourism, however, it should not be to the detriment and cohesion of our community.
We lived in Victoria and then Hornby Island before our move to Powell River. Short-term rentals were and still are causing huge upheavals in those communities. This situation is caused by people purchasing vacation-type homes, either non-resident owners or local owners who purchased homes to use as short-term rentals.
In our second winter on Hornby Island, we realized that in a two-block radius of our home there were more empty houses (in the winter months) than there were residents. This led to a real breakdown in the “sense of community” that was so important to the neighbourhood.
It also led to local people who did not own property (young people and older retired people especially) not being able to afford to stay. It was at risk of becoming a community for only the elite.
We had a very difficult time attracting young people with skills: teachers, tradespeople, service industry workers, firefighters and health workers. The price of property went up, making it even more difficult to attract or retain working people.
The lack of long-term rental housing and affordable housing was also an outcome of increased short-term rentals. Houses that were rented out for the “off season” to local individuals or families reverted back to short-term rentals in the summer months with high rents, leaving people in the position of having to move out to campgrounds, tents or friends’ backyards if they wanted to remain on the island.
I have been in the position of trying to find accommodation for older renters in Powell River. It is an almost impossible situation with wait lists that can be years long and high rents.
We have families living at campsites waiting to find accommodation. None of this speaks to the need for more short-term rentals. We need yearlong rentals to accommodate new families, new workers and our own young people and retirees who want to stay in Powell River.
If owners are offering short-term rentals in their primary residence or on the property of their primary residence, that can be a mortgage helper. If they are purchasing a house to offer short-term rentals, that is more than a mortgage helper, it is a business. And if they own more than one business already and are buying a house to rent out for short-term rentals, that can be speculating with no thought to what is best for our community or our fellow residents.
I fully support the intention of limiting short-term rentals to the owners’ primary residence/property. It is in the best interest of our community, our neighbourhoods and our residents.
Maureen Tierney is a Powell River resident.