Hello, lately coexisting with Short-Term Rentals (STRs) has been an important community conversation and that is what this Director’s Report focuses on.

A big thank you to the many islanders who engaged in the SRD’s Short-Term Rental (STR) survey and also to those who attended the recent community meeting I organized. The survey and the community meeting focused on two main issues: should Area C ‘opt in’ to the province’s Principal Residence Requirement for short-term rental operators, and which zones are most appropriate for STRs to operate in.

Community meeting
About 75 people attended the community meeting: I’m grateful to those who took the time to attend and share their thoughts. Themes raised at the meeting included the neighbourhood benefits to having an on-site host; residential properties operating as commercial enterprise are inflating property values; opting in may help with housing availability; the Residential Tenancy Act is a reason homeowners prefer short-term rentals; and, a desire for STRs to be legalized in the zoning bylaw. A large majority of meeting attendees were short-term rental operators and many of them supported opting in.

Survey results
SRD staff have reported the survey results on the time-sensitive question of Area C opting in to the Principal Residence Requirement: 58% of the 405 respondents said Yes. Beyond the meeting and survey results, I’ve received many messages from folks sharing their thoughts or concerns on the benefits or not of ‘opting in’. Like the survey results, within the many viewpoints shared with me was a preference for the community benefit of opting in. An overarching theme was keeping the heart of our community intact.

short term rental survey results

The SRD’s Electoral Area C Short Term Rental survey was launched on March 5, 2024. 405 surveys were received by the March 27 staff report, with 58% of respondents preferring that Area C opt-in to the principal residence requirement.

Officially ‘opting in’
After deliberation at the March 27 Board meeting, the Board supported Area C opting in to the Principal Residence Requirement (PRR). This requirement will come into effect November 1, 2024, for Area C short-term rental operators. Cortes Island (Area B) has also opted into the requirement. The Principal Residence Requirement is mandatory in Campbell River, as in all BC municipalities with a population over 10,000 and a less than 3% vacancy rate.

Benefits of Short-term Rentals
Short-term rentals provide valuable benefits to our community. Our island economy thrives on tourism. STRs are making it possible for people to live here who might otherwise not be able to, whether it’s helping with a mortgage or supplementing retirement income. We also know we are experiencing a housing crunch: there are too many islanders working island jobs and living in inadequate or precarious housing. Opting in is one step in keeping the heart in our community and protecting us from becoming ‘cottage country’.

I appreciate the challenges this decision will have on some property owners. The PRR legislation applies to properties advertising to the general public. It won’t apply if the STR is only offered to a segment of the population, like for example if it’s listed on locumhome.ca, which serves solely healthcare professionals, or to those offering their property via an email list.

Bill 35
The Principal Residence Requirement is part of the BC government’s Bill 35, a suite of STR-related legislation. Bill 35 has made it mandatory that STR platforms like AirBnB, VRBO, & Expedia share data with the Province; beginning late 2024 ALL short-term rental operators will need to register with the province and once this is online operators will be required to display their registration number on their platform listing.

Amongst Bill 35’s provisions is a requirement that regional districts update zoning bylaws to provide clear regulatory language related to short-term rentals. Where and how to permit STRs in our zoning bylaws is a continuing community conversation: the SRD survey results related to zoning have not yet been released.

Thank you for reading. You’re welcome to connect with me with questions or concerns, you can email rmawhinney@srd.ca, or call 250.203.2468. If you’d like to chat in person, you can book a meeting at calendly.com/robynmawhinney.

Until next time,
Respectfully and sincerely,
Robyn Mawhinney