Public Notice

Posted: Nov 29, 2023      |      By: Communications

Mayor Statement on Provincial Short-Term Rental Regulations

Posted: Nov 29, 2023   |   By: Communications

At the Regular Council Meeting on November 28, 2023, Tofino Mayor Dan Law addressed the recent Short-Term Rental Accommodations Act proposed by the Province on October 16, 2023.

Here is the full statement:

" I would like to take time to address BC’s Short-Term Rental Accommodations Act tabled by the Province of British Columbia on October 16, 2023.

Tofino is a unique community and a place that has become increasingly desirable to live and visit. Like much of the province, our community is facing significant housing challenges. Affordable long-term housing continues to be a top priority for this Council. B.C.'s recently tabled Short-Term Rental Accommodations Act marks a significant step towards achieving our shared goal of sustainable housing solutions. The legislation tabled by the province has several implications for Tofino that I would like to offer some clarity on:

  • Immediately after this legislation gains Royal Assent (within the coming months), increased fines and tickets up to $50,000 may be imposed on illegal short-term rentals in Tofino. These fines will be backed by Provincial enforcement.
  • On May 1, 2024, legal non-conforming protections will no longer be applicable to short-term rentals in all BC municipalities, including Tofino.
  • Starting Summer 2024, data sharing will begin between the Province, The District of Tofino, and short-term rental platform operators (including Airbnb etc.). This will make it easier for the Province and the District to identify and enforce non-compliant Short-Term Rental operations.
  • In Late 2024, the Province will launch a Short-Term Rental registry and will require platforms to remove listings without valid provincial registry numbers.
  • The Province will impose a principal residency requirement which will limit short-term rentals to:
    • The host’s principal residence
    • Plus, one secondary suite or accessory dwelling unit

Though currently exempt, communities under 10,000 as well as resort communities may choose to opt into the principal residency requirement.

I would like to emphasize, that the District will fully embrace the increased provincial Short-Term Rental enforcement measures which in and of themselves will make a positive impact on our community and on Tofino’s housing supply.

Those who hold a business licence for a short-term rental with legal non-conforming status, and choose to renew their business licence for 2024, will not be issued a refund should their business be impacted. For all legal non-conforming status business enquiries, please contact bylaw services.

Prior to this legislation announcement, the District of Tofino has taken proactive measures and determined efforts to address the growing housing challenges in Tofino, including:

  • The creation of a full-time Business Licence Inspector position to proactively enforce illegal short-term rentals.
  • A provision that requires business licence holders to provide long-term accommodations on vacation rental properties (caretaker suites or cabins)
  • Restoration of the Tofino Housing Corporation in 2017, followed by significant affordable housing developments including the Headwaters project approaching completion within the year that will increase local housing stock by 10%.
  • A 3% tax on online accommodation providers (Airbnb) that is provided to the Tofino Housing Corporation.
  • A nearly $3 million application to the CMHC Housing Accelerator Fund
  • A limit on new tourist accommodation zonings and provisions on new developments.

Further to this, in late 2022, Council directed staff to explore possible amendments to the Zoning Regulations Bylaw and to conduct a Short-Term Rental Review to specifically explore how increasing Short-Term Rental restrictions could help address the housing challenges in Tofino. These preliminary discussions included both zoning and principal residency requirement changes. This work has been paused while staff await detailed regulations for the Province’s aforementioned legislation.

Council recognizes there is more work to be done to address housing needs in this community. Council is also aware of the impact Provincial regulations may have on residents’ livelihoods, residents’ lived experience, housing equity, our local economy, and more.

In the coming weeks, further details of the proposed Provincial regulations are expected to be announced, and Council is awaiting those specifics. As a Resort Municipality, Tofino has the option to opt into the principal residence requirement. Prior to any decision, there will be a thorough public consultation process to allow all voices of this community to be heard. Stay tuned for this engagement window, which I encourage all residents to participate in.

In the meantime, Council and staff have engaged in conflict-of-interest examinations to ensure the District’s decision making process regarding this matter remains transparent and unbiased.

I would like to express the District's gratitude to those who have written to myself and Council regarding the Short-Term Rental legislation. Robust community feedback is vitally important as we navigate the complexities of housing policies and their implications for our community as a whole. Together, we can successfully navigate these opportunities and challenges to ensure our community thrives and becomes more equitable and liveable for all. "

Inspired to Engage?

Please note that prior to any decision on this matter, a thorough public consultation process will precede any decision by Council to opt in or out of the principal residence requirement. Stay tuned for the public engagement window and details on how to participate and have your voice heard.

In the meantime, please note that letters received by members of Council are added to the public record. If you would like your letter to be included on an upcoming public or private Council meeting agenda, or remain confidential to Council, please disclose this at the top of your letter prior to the public agenda item, deadline of 12 PM the Thursday before a regular Council meeting.

More information on writing to Council here

Watch the statement from the mayor here

Share this post: