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Powell River looks at short-term rental regulations

POWELL RIVER, B.C. – The City of Powell River is looking at regulations aimed at controlling short-term rental housing.

Mayor Dave Formosa said that through a staff report and public input, the city is “coming up with some policies” regarding short-term rentals such as Airbnb’s.

“We’re still waiting to hear what the final recommendation from staff will be,” Formosa added.

Senior planner Jason Gow told that the city has been monitoring short-term rentals in Powell River and recently the number has fluctuated between 55 and 60.

There are now 60 short-term rentals in Powell River.

Formosa said one of the city’s concerns is to protect its rental stock and ensure there are long-term rentals available for people looking to make Powell River their home.

“If whole houses are being used for Airbnb, it’s not something that the report supports, so we are looking at that because we have folks who are interested in whole home rentals,” he said.

Also, Formosa pointed out, Airbnb rentals pay residential tax, compared to hotels that are paying a full commercial tax.

“So if we do something in regards to whole homes, then we would probably look at some kind of a fee to try and level the playing field,” Formosa said.

Ultimately, the mayor said, the goal is to control the number of Airbnb locations in the city.

“Really, we’re trying to not have too many of them, an overabundance whereby it’s counterproductive, although we do realize they are important and part of the new world, and that we’re supportive of Airbnb’s,” Formosa said.

The city has also found that the majority of Powell River’s Bed and Breakfast locations that were paying a business license, have since changed their classification to become Airbnb’s.

“We have no regulations and no fees (for Airbnb) at this time,” Formosa said.

Gow said the report will be brought forward to the Committee of the Whole on Sept. 4.

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