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Charlottetown council begins process to regulate short-term rentals

Coun. Greg Rivard, right, chairman of the planning committee, talks to Coun. Terry Bernard, chairman of the finance committee, prior to city council’s regular public monthly meeting on Monday. Council has begun the process of development a bylaw that will regulate short-term rentals in the capital city.
Coun. Greg Rivard, right, chairman of the planning committee, talks to Coun. Terry Bernard, chairman of the finance committee, prior to city council’s regular public monthly meeting on Monday. Council has begun the process of development a bylaw that will regulate short-term rentals in the capital city. - Dave Stewart
CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. —

The City of Charlottetown has begun the process of coming up with a bylaw that will regulate short-term rentals.

But city council wants public input first, and lots of it.

The city will post a survey on its website in the next week or two with a series of questions that weren’t determined as of Monday’s regular public monthly meeting of council.

That survey will stay up on the website for about two weeks before a series of public meetings are held in June.

Staff will then draft up a proposed bylaw and that document will be taken back for more public meetings in August. Council should have the final draft to deal with in September before a bylaw is created in the fall.

“We’ve been working with the province, the previous government, in trying to get a clarification on a few items,’’ said Coun. Greg Rivard, chairman of the planning committee, following the council meeting. “We feel that we have enough to move forward with a public consultation phase and the steps towards putting regulations in place for short-term rentals.’’

One of the clarifications Rivard refers to is jurisdiction of authority. For some time, the city and province debated back and forth whose responsibility it was to regulate short-term rentals such as Airbnbs. Each passed the buck onto the other.

The City of Charlottetown went and got a legal opinion from its solicitor and was told that under the Tourism Act the city can regulate short-term rentals.

“I think the province still has to put some legislation in place or tweak the policy a bit when it comes to the whole inspection piece of it or around safety, fire code ... and things of that nature.’’

But, the city now feels it has enough information to move forward and act on its own.

In September, the city passed the Affordable Housing Incentive Program. In the meantime, the planning department has been working on amendments to the planning bylaw that could make those incentive a reality. One regulation many in the city were waiting for was for short-term rentals.

Rivard wouldn’t commit to limiting short-term rentals, saying it’s too early to say what the bylaw will look like.

The city’s planning department will look at best practices across Canada. Some cities indeed do limit the number of rentals that one owner can have. Other cities go the zoning route, perhaps eliminating short-term rentals in R-3 zones (apartments).

“There are different models to look at,’’ Rivard said. “We’ll take the information from the public and information staff gather, in terms of best practices across the country, and we’re going to create a bylaw that we feel works for Charlottetown.’’


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