Tofino is checking its local vacation rental supply to determine if the restrictions could help create residential affordability.
At their regular meeting on March 8, the City Council unanimously agreed to have its staff prepare a report on Tofino’s short-term rental economy statistics, trends and data.
The motion was presented by Mayor Dan Law and Councillor. Cathy Thicke.
“It’s quite simple. There has been a lot of talk about short term rentals, the issue keeps coming up in the community and this motion is to get staff to come forward with comprehensive data,” Law said. “I think if there’s going to be an assessment and an opportunity for discussion about a change in policy or regulations, then I’d like to see a very comprehensive data set.”
He suggested the report would provide the number of vacation rentals and a breakdown of available rooms versus the number of long-term rentals and housing units.
“I would like to see a lot of data so that the board is very informed for discussion and insight into any future policy changes,” he said.
Com. Cathy Thicke said “it’s time” for the community to do a full review and noted that the recent housing needs assessment in the council’s 2021-2023 strategic plan noted the impact of short-term rentals housing supply and affordability.
“The lack of equity in housing is becoming more and more apparent and the disparity is getting bigger, so I think we have to look at what’s happening now, where we want our community to go and how we want to proceed,” said she declared. “Having this review and this data will provide us with the information we need to consider further adjustments in policies in the future and I believe our council has the maturity and wisdom to tackle something that is difficult but essential at the moment.”
Com. Duncan McMaster said he would support the motion, but wondered what role municipal or provincial governments should have in enforcing the law.
“Our taxes continue to rise and we know we are going to face a drastic increase soon with the liquid waste management plan,” he said, adding that the province’s rental regulations limit the amount that landlords can raise rents each year.
“I think elements of government are forcing people to consider short-term rentals that normally wouldn’t… just to pay the bills. So I don’t think we can say it’s just greed on the part of others.
The law accepted.
“That question is actually embedded in this (motion), which is why I would like to see real data and real lived experience of people,” he said.
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