Town of Qualicum Beach won’t allow owner occupied short term vacation rentals.

Town of Qualicum Beach won’t allow owner occupied short term vacation rentals.

The Town of Qualicum Beach in British Columbia recently made the controversial decision to not authorize short-term vacation rentals outside of specific commercial exceptions, a choice expected to reduce the coastal community's tourism revenue. At the town council's regular meeting on April 10th, a majority of officials voted for an in-depth study on the issue to be undertaken in 2027 rather than take immediate action. This decision comes on the heels of new provincial regulations on short-term rentals aimed at alleviating British Columbia's shortage of affordable housing.

Town planner Luke Sales provided an overview of the implications for Qualicum Beach once the Short-Term Rental Accommodations Act comes into effect on May 1st. Currently, short-term vacation rentals are prohibited in residential zones, yet data shows approximately 116 are operating illegally, bringing in $11 million in annual tourism spending. The new law will restrict rentals to principal residences with either a secondary suite or accessory unit, which Sales says will decrease Qualicum Beach's rentals to around 20, generating just $2 million. To mitigate the loss, he suggested bylaw amendments, temporary use permits, and increased fines.

However, council endorsed postponing any authorization of owner-occupied short-term rentals until 2027. Councillor Scott Harrison alone opposed this, asking if it essentially bans all short-term rentals, which Sales confirmed aside from commercial properties. Harrison suggested a public hearing before decisions are made. Councillor Anne Skipsey indicated the 2027 review was decided during strategic planning given delays from provincial legislation. Councillor Petronella Van der Valk added that while tourism dollars may be lost, the change could make housing more affordable since households paid an estimated $15.6 million more in rent from 2016-2021 due to short-term rental activity in the area.


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