An Airbnb map in 2021 shows several properties for rent in Cumberland. Screenshot, Airbnb.ca

An Airbnb map in 2021 shows several properties for rent in Cumberland. Screenshot, Airbnb.ca

Cumberland considers licences for short-term vacation rentals

Village trying to strike balance between affordable housing, visitor spaces

Cumberland might be looking at requiring business licences or on-site caretakers for property owners who want to make available homes for short-term vacation rentals.

Facing both a shortage of vacation accommodations, especially in busy summer seasons, and a low vacancy rate for residents, the village has been looking to strike a balance between affordable housing and meeting demands of visitors.

In recent months, the village had undertaken a project to get feedback from the community about developing a new vacation rentals policy. Senior planner Karin Albert presented council with an overview at their March 26 meeting.

RELATED STORY: Cumberland gathers ideas for short-term rental policy

From workshops and an online survey, a key strategy that emerged was setting up a requirement for rental operators to get a business licence, which would have to be included on all advertising.

“This will help greatly with enforcement,” Albert said.

Another idea that many participants in the process liked was a stipulation that a caretaker be required to live on site at rental properties, though it could either be in the main dwelling or a secondary one.

During the process, staff had examined some of the actions taken by communities facing a similar dilemma as Cumberland. These included putting caps on the number of short-term vacation rental operations in a community as a whole or in particular areas.

“Some jurisdictions do have a maximum,” Albert said.

Other measures up for discussion included parking requirements, limits on room or guest numbers or restrictions on the types of homes that can be rented.

In response to the report, Coun. Gwyn Sproule said she had noticed about 20 Airbnb listings that day, and that did not include listings on other platforms. She was concerned about clusters of rental homes in areas and what that might do to a sense of community in neighbourhoods.

“There’s lots to think about on this,” she said.

Council members were pleased by the strong turnout, especially to the survey, which received 658 responses.

“The survey was really, really well done,” said Coun. Vickey Brown.

The plan now is to send the draft report to various committees in April for comments, which could then be incorporated into a final version. Mayor Leslie Baird asked when council might see these responses again. Albert responded that staff hoped the referrals can come back to council in early May following the committee meetings.

At the end of the discussion, Coun. Sean Sullivan made a motion to refer the vacation rental report to the village’s Advisory Planning Commission, Homelessness and Affordable Housing Committee and Economic Steering Committee for comment. The motion passed unanimously.



mike.chouinard@comoxvalleyrecord.com

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