Victoria council promotes the benefits of home-sharing

But catering to tourists more than residents can have harmful long-term effects

Bedroom from a local home advertised on Airbnb, as seen online this week. Airbnb

Re: City’s STR policy is a logical step (Our View, Nov. 1)

Our booming real estate investment market is capitalizing on a desirable climate and a popular tourist destination.

Victoria’s dilemma!

Online accommodation platforms such as Airbnb, have contributed to an expanding global property investment market. These new “home-sharing” monopolies benefit individual and corporate owners. However, few cities are able to mitigate the negative impact of this unregulated business model. The result? A proliferation of quasi-hotels, now consuming housing space in tight rental markets.

Four in 10 condo units built in Victoria are purchased by corporate interests. Others are bought by retirees as seasonal residences, foreign students and their families, and high-income professionals or IT industry contractors.

The City’s short-term rental (STR) policy favours owners of existing downtown STR condos and legalized STRs in owner-occupied single-family homes. It’s now expanding STRs to multi-family rental properties. This is council’s answer to promoting “home-sharing” economy benefits equitably.

Sixty percent of Victoria’s households are renters. No landlord permits tenants to rent out rooms to tourists. Is council encouraging purpose-built apartment owners to convert suites into highly profitable STRs? This, at the expense of long-term tenants?

What about affordable rental housing in Victoria? Council has approved a growing number of older apartment demolitions, replacing rentals with high-priced condo units. Won’t their actions exacerbate the acute shortage of city rental units? This lure of $150 nightly fees for Airbnb-style accommodation will likely result in more long-term tenant evictions.

Lodging tourists has become a higher priority than housing those who live and work here. Is this progress? Is this council’s way of “protecting the greater good” and housing affordability in the city?

Victoria Adams

Victoria

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