I stand with the primary residence short-term rental operators who are supplementing their income, and paying off their mortgage by renting out their home with tourists. They are providing the “Charlottetown experience,” while not putting pressure on our residential housing supply. Sharing, caring about the community and being welcoming has always been the Island way. Caring requires us to ensure our local workers, neighbours, friends and students can have long term housing options other than 8 month leases.
In December, five representatives of the Short Term Rental Association made a presentation to City Council lobbying for protection of their commercial tourist investments. They represent only 10% of their association but have at least 30 units between them. Their goals are rooted in their own economic self-interest, which is why they claim that restriction to owner-occupied/primary residence regulations would be harmful to Charlottetown.
The data shows that many students do not want 8-month leases anymore, demonstrated by how in 2019, 47% of the entire student body of UPEI attended summer courses. The research by Dr. David Wachsmuth has shown that an increase in Short term rentals (STRs) is an increase in housing costs (rental or purchase) for everyone. The data also shows that Charlottetown has the second highest proportion of STRs in the country, and that those listings are concentrated in areas closest to our essential services, bus routes, schools and local businesses.
To the average resident, it is easy to understand that owning multiple residential units for the purpose of tourism is removing housing from long-term use. The claim that economic tourism benefits outweighs the local, human community cost, is an argument that lacks a lot of compassion when so many are struggling to be living somewhere safe and affordable. The “hosts” are re-purposing once residential units into tourist accommodations without having to adhere to the more rigorous commercial zoning regulations and safety bylaws that bind the traditional operators. Workers in the tourism industry are struggling to find accommodations in Charlottetown for the summer, which has led to hospitality businesses having worker shortages. How can STRs truly benefit the industry when it works against itself?
Short term rentals have their place in Charlottetown, but not at the expense of local residents.
Aimee Power, Charlottetown