Stock photo of an AirBnB ad on a cell phone. (Black Press file photo)

Port McNeill council tackles the issue of AirBnBs

Council wants a public hearing to identify options for short-term rentals in Port McNeill.

At the Feb. 11 meeting of Port McNeill council, questions concerning short-term rentals, such as AirBnB’s, were again brought to mayor and councillors attention.

Short-term rentals (STR), are usually classified as being self-contained, independent accommodation as compared to traditional B&B’s that generally offer overnight accommodation, in the homeowner’s primary residence, in combination with a breakfast.

Currently, the Town of Port McNeill has no provision in its bylaws for short-term rentals and a homeowner (who was recently denied permission by the town to operate an AirBnB style STR) had asked council to review and update the bylaws. As a result of that request and late last year, council referred the matter to the Advisory Planning Commission, asking the commission to provide recommendations.

With demand growing and its economic importance being recognized, many municipalities have, according to the planning commission, implemented development regulations, “tailored to address the opportunities and impacts of short-term rentals on [their] communities.”

Following their initial review, the Advisory Planning Commission reported on both the potential benefits and challenges short-term rentals posed for Port McNeill.

There were opportunities to increase local tourism business while providing supplementary income for homeowners as well as additional revenues for the town. But there were also challenges around such areas as neighbourhood noise, parking shortages on residential streets and the overall impact of STR’s on the long-term rental housing market

In dealing with the pros and cons, the commission noted that other communities have developed a variety of policies and bylaws that specifically address issues of concern to them. These might include having a cap on the number of STR business licences issued, or possibly restricting short-term rentals to certain areas of the municipality.

Regardless of the bylaw stance taken by other towns, the commission reported that most communities surveyed agreed that, “STR’s are a desired choice for a growing portion of the visitor market” and they, “help promote the town to the travelling public.”

The commission felt there was considerable information available on how other communities approached the issue of short-term rentals. However, they explained how creating a “made in Port McNeill” solution was vital and community engagement was essential to making that happen.

The Advisory Planning Commission recommended that council develop an online survey, seeking public input on short-term rentals. Council agreed, but went on to include the need for a public hearing that would help identify options for allowing or disallowing short-term rentals in Port McNeill.

Council is hopeful the survey will be available online by the end of February, and from there, be able to schedule a public hearing for early spring.

– Bill McQuarrie article

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