Vacation Rentals

Editorial

Tuesday, June 13 2017

Gabriola does not need to open up regulations on short-term-vacation-rentals.

People to actually apply for permits to legally operate them.

The system is there - but people aren’t using it.

It can’t possibly be because of the price of a permit.

$900 is not cheap, but the benefit is much higher.

Consider, most of the short-term rentals available online for Gabriola go for over $100 per night. (These being the ones where renters get the whole home to rent.)

$900 covers the cost of getting a permit for the first three years. To renew for another three years costs a mere $150.

Anyone complaining about the cost of getting a temporary-use-permit is apparently not able to do a cost-benefit analysis.

Or maybe they are. The fine for operating an illegal STVR is $300, according to Miles Drew, Manager of Islands Trust Bylaw Enforcement. A third of the permit price. And that’s if a property owner gets caught.

What we don’t need, as Trustee O’Sullivan points out in the article on the front page, is any opening up of the STVR regulations which might put our already rapidly-diminishing long-term rentals at risk of completely disappearing.

For a few years now, there have been discussions at different community workshops that STVRs in one form or another are creating a pressure on the housing market. Clearly some property owners prefer to rent illegally by the day, week, or month, rather than legally for longer terms. 

They’ve done the cost-benefit analysis. 

Especially the part where the fine for operating an illegal one is a third of the cost of getting the permit to legalize it.

The Trust doesn’t need to open up the regulations - it needs to get the fines up to where property owners are discouraged to operate illegally.

What the Trust also needs is a way to better separate the bed-and-breakfast locations from the STVRs. Tofino and other municipalities solve the enforcement issue by requiring business licenses for both the B&Bs and STVRs.

Gabriola doesn’t require business licenses for anything.

It will be interesting to see what comes from a ‘pro-active’ enforcement and education of the current regulations.

People may start applying for permits.

More likely - especially as the fines remain cost-beneficial - they will keep going on operating under the impression that because they’ve always been able to slide under the radar, they can continue to do so.