Facebook group advocates for short term rental owners in Greater Victoria

Facebook group advocates for short term rental owners in Greater Victoria

Local property owners and vacation rental operators mount defence against new STR regulations

A group of property owners are hoping to change the City of Victoria’s mind about short-term rentals.

Blake MacKenzie, who has been working in the short-term rental (STR) industry since 2004 and co-owns EMR Vacation Rentals, created the Facebook group Greater Victoria Short Term Rental Alliance over the summer, in hopes of advocating for property owners and vacation rental providers. The group has over 80 members, 50 of whom met at the Oaklands Community Association last week and formed an ad hoc committee to create a legal defence for the local industry, and to talk about fundraising for their advocacy efforts.

The owners of properties managed by MacKenzie, and members of the group feel they got shut out by the City, he said, and that only large companies like Airbnb were consulted before Victoria created a new policy. Last month the City removed transient accommodation as an appropriate land use for downtown properties, the first step in creating comprehensive short-term rental regulations that come into effect in early 2018.

“We felt the city of Victoria was not listening,” MacKenzie said. “Not one of us were called to the table; none of us had a consultation process with anyone at council.”

MacKenzie and three other members of the group did address council in June, but he said group members would have liked a “round table” discussion.

During last month’s public hearing, councillors said they hoped regulations would bring properties back into the long-term rental market.

MacKenzie said regulating STR in Victoria won’t address the housing crisis, but will hurt property owners who often own a single property used for vacation rentals, who may have purchased it as a retirement investment or to supplement mortgage payments. Many were never meant to be available as long-term rentals, he said.

“We’re not talking about helping homelessness here. We’re not talking helping people find affordable housing, because landlords should not be the ones subsidizing peoples’ lives by giving them deals on low-income rent,” he said. “Most of these owners are not rich people; most of these owners, this is the biggest investment they have in their lives. They’re middle-class people that earned and built these properties over time.”

The City’s short-term rental framework is still being created, and while the licensing fees are not set, they’ve been proposed at $200 to $2,500 per licence, a price tag MacKenzie said is too high.

“If you’re trying to say a small studio suite in the Janion, it’s gotta cost $2,500 a year to be licensed, it’s completely unfair. That’s a punitive tax. That’s not a licensing fee.”

Coun. Ben Isitt stands by council’s decision to regulate STR and noted that licensing fees have yet to be determined.

But the rezoning law and regulating the industry are fair and will help address the housing crisis because the condominium units are needed for rental housing, he said.

“There could be losses for some of these owners, but I think that’s unfortunately part of the ordinary course of business,” he said, speaking of the risks involved in investing in the largely unregulated STR industry. “The people who are really losing right now are renters who can’t even find shelter.

“If you look at the financial power of the parties, comparing the owner of a short-term rental unit, to an individual who is trying to find an affordable, safe place to live, the real insecurity is with renters in a community.”

The City is hosting an open house about short term rentals Monday (Oct. 30) from 5:30 to 8 p.m.

lauren.boothby@vicnews.com

City of Victoriashort term rentals

Just Posted

Deep Cove Elementary School principal Shelley Hardcastle (right) and vice-principal Mary Kaercher help to restock Reay Creek with fish – in this case, coho fry – after a recent bleach spill killed hundreds of fish. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
North Saanich’s Deep Cove Elementary School helps to restock Sidney’s Reay Creek

Restocking followed bleach spill that killed hundreds of fish in creek

A new report pegs the annual cost of hiring a third party to monitor use of pickleball courts in North Saanich at $12,000. (Black Press Media file photo).
North Saanich could end up hiring third party to monitor pickleball courts

Other options up for consideration include use of cameras and timed locks

The barred owl is the most likely to be spotted in the south Island. (Ann Nightingale photo)
Barred owls dominate Greater Victoria owl-scape

Western screech owl population decimated, partly due to barred owls

Between June 1 and 7, 168 net unconditional sales were made for properties in the VREB region. (Black Press Media file photo)
Victoria home sales slightly behind last June’s pace

Benchmark value of single-family home in Greater Victoria tops $1 million

Police monitor protesters at a blockade in the Fairy Creek area of southwestern Vancouver Island on Wednesday, June 9. (Facebook photo)
8 old-growth logging protesters arrested in Fairy Creek watershed Friday

A total of 214 people have been arrested as of June 11

At an outdoor drive-in convocation ceremony, Mount Royal University bestows an honorary Doctor of Laws on Blackfoot Elder and residential school survivor Clarence Wolfleg in Calgary on Tuesday, June 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
‘You didn’t get the best of me’: Residential school survivor gets honorary doctorate

Clarence Wolfleg receives honorary doctorate from Mount Royal University, the highest honour the school gives out

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from B.C. residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

A logging truck carries its load down the Elaho Valley near in Squamish, B.C. in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
Squamish Nation calls for old-growth logging moratorium in its territory

The nation says 44% of old-growth forests in its 6,900-square kilometre territory are protected while the rest remain at risk

Flowers and cards are left at a makeshift memorial at a monument outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School to honour the 215 children whose remains are believed to have been discovered buried near the city in Kamloops, B.C., on Monday, May 31, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Pick a Sunday:’ Indigenous leaders ask Catholics to stay home, push for apology

Indigenous leaders are calling on Catholics to stand in solidarity with residential school survivors by not attending church services

“They will never be forgotten, every child matters,” says Sioux Valley Chief Jennifer Bone in a video statement June 1. (Screen grab)
104 ‘potential graves’ detected at site of former residential school in Manitoba

Sioux Valley Dakota Nation working to identify, repatriate students buried near former Brandon residential school

The Queen Victoria statue at the B.C. legislature was splattered with what looks like red paint on Friday. (Nicole Crescenzi/News Staff)
Queen Victoria statue at B.C. legislature vandalized Friday

Statue splattered with red paint by old growth forest proponents

Most Read