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Proposed short-term rental legislation could affect Island businesses, tourism

A Victoria business owner, whose business model depends on short-term rentals, says proposed legislation would greatly affect her business and others in the area.

Nancy Paine is the founder and CEO of SpaceHost, a service for short-term rental owners that helps organize, greet guests, clean and provide other services to the owners.

Paine says that of her 60 or so clients, who mainly advertise through Airbnb, most own short-term rentals that are not part of their primary residence and the new legislation would have a massive impact on her business and others’.

“The majority of those are single-unit owners. The properties were purchased with the intention of doing this business and I wish that politicians could look at them as a one-unit small business,” said Paine.

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Paine adds that most of the property owners are B.C. residents, with only a few from either out of province or country. She adds this could pose more issues with tourism not just in Victoria.

Under the proposed legislation, known as Bill 35, short-term rentals are defined as “a service of accommodation in the property of a property host, in exchange for a fee, that is provided to members of the public for a period of time of less than 90 consecutive days.”

“Part of the reason that the transient zoning existed in the first place is because there was a need for it. There wasn’t enough supply and there still isn’t,” said Paine. “In the near future, the supply is going to be crunched by this if it comes into law.”

Paine says this will make hotel prices rise and make travelling not only unattractive for tourists, but also for people making short term trips for work.

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“There’s different types of travellers who are coming here and they all aren’t always tourists,” said Paine. “Sometimes we’re hosting travel nurses or people who are looking for a home here or people who are between homes.”

If the legislation were to go ahead, Paine adds her 15 employees would be out of work as her business model would no longer be viable.

A statement from Airbnb policy manager Alex Howell on Tuesday says the legislation will not alleviate the province’s housing concerns and will instead make travel more expensive for British Columbians.

He adds that it will also reduce tourism spending in the province and will take money out of residents’ pockets.

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