Whitehorse Daily Star

Image title

Photo by Whitehorse Star

Dianne Williams

Local short-term rental market needs no city intervention: resident

City hall should stay out of trying to regulate the short-term rental market, says Whitehorse resident Dianne Williams.

By Chuck Tobin on July 5, 2019

City hall should stay out of trying to regulate the short-term rental market, says Whitehorse resident Dianne Williams.

She appeared before city council Tuesday evening with an overriding suggestion that the city may not have a full grasp on the can of worms it may be opening.

“Society is changing, and so are the ways people live,” Williams said in her presentation to council.

“Modern life requires flexible accommodations for seasonal workers, contractors, students, visitors, family friends and acquaintances.

“Building a city that provides accommodations to meet these needs is progressive. The city administration should not be involved in how people run their homes, in my opinion,” she said.

City hall is conducting an online survey titled Short Term Rental Accommodation. It notes there are 150 or so online listings on various platforms such as AirBnB.

Other cities have developed regulations with the intent of limiting the impact of short-term rentals on the commercial sector and the availability of long-term accommodations, the survey points out.

It says the city is now looking at the possibility of regulations for Whitehorse. The survey will end July 27.

Williams put forward several examples of how homeowners might be providing short-term accommodations. An example is renting out a room for three or more weeks to a college student who’s here on a short exchange program.

Is that a business, she asked council, that requires a business licence, a regular inspection and so forth?

A person rents a house with a couple of extra rooms that he rents out to buddies. Is that a business?

“If these examples are considered a business, does every person who rents a room or a house out need a business licence?” Williams asked.

If all instances of providing various forms of accommodation are indeed a commercial activity requiring the same inspection and licence criteria, she said, it’s difficult to visualize inspectors going to every home in which a bedroom is rented out.

“How much advance notice would a homeowner need to book an appointment?” she asked.

Williams said changes to how the city administers short- and long-term rentals will have an impact on everybody from students to seasonal contract workers, from family members to guests.

“How citizens of Whitehorse use their bedrooms is not a city matter,” she told council.

In an interview afterward, Williams said the online market is already a self-regulating market.

If clients see something they don’t like, the word spreads, she pointed out.

Williams said regulating the short-term rental market will not solve the city’s housing crisis.

Comments (6)

Up 16 Down 1

Groucho d'North on Jul 8, 2019 at 12:08 pm

The territorial government has the authority and responsibility to create and enforce the majority of the regulatory standards that govern our lives, I imagine the City would like to assume a larger role to justify their existance and budgets. Perhaps they could start some dialog on how the COW could help with enforcing the many things YG does not have the available resources for, such as the numerous traffic violations that occur each day with regular frequency. I'm sure there are many other things the City could do to assume a larger role in demonstrating governance over its citizens, but they should also know where not to get involved...like administering rental regulations and similar folly.

Up 36 Down 4

Yukoner on Jul 7, 2019 at 8:10 am

This is yet another absolutely ridiculous idea from the COW. Where is the revenue going to come from to run the program and pay for these inspectors? Fines? Give me a gosh darned break. Sure, bloat the city roster even more, we like paying taxes! One inspector will cost minimum $100k/year in wages and benefits. All to police ourselves?

I'm tired of City officials overthinking their roles. Do what you were hired to do.

There must be new managers because you couldn't drive 100m down 2nd avenue without seeing 10 things the City needs to do. Roads, lights, green spaces. There's this thing, it's called maintenance. I challenge anyone to go ahead and use any of the "fitness stations" around town, they're all on resistance level 100 because not a drop of grease has graced them since installation. Some of the downtown roads used to be paved, but are now gravel. Check out the park in PC where Stan McGowan arena used to be, it's like a 3rd world country with garbage, broken glass and 2 ft tall weeds. I would say new is better but then I take a drive down to Whistle Bend...

Give your head a shake and get your house in order, COW.

Up 20 Down 18

Politico on Jul 6, 2019 at 7:32 pm

Allowing people to run any business in Whitehorse without regulation also excludes the city's right to tax commerce in the city. Extra residences will cost the city who will have to maintain services, water & waste disposal, and those residence's should pay their fair share. The lady just wants other people to subsidize her profits!

Up 28 Down 2

Boyd Campbell on Jul 6, 2019 at 3:44 pm

They are copying the same stencil which is happening right now in mainland BC. Some politicians look at themselves as being progressive and "with it" if you jump on some bandwagon which other jurisdictions say is a problem. Apparently, keeping your nose out of other people's business is just boring and no fun.

Up 39 Down 7

Juniper Jackson on Jul 5, 2019 at 9:19 pm

This counsel is brutal for butting into every damn thing.. I've gotten so I can't stand any of them..

Up 35 Down 9

Tammy-joy Dubetz on Jul 5, 2019 at 5:36 pm

I am in agreement with Dianne Williams.
The way I decide to use my own property is my own concern and should not be interfered with by the city.
It looks like it would be a great problem to regulate inspections on every person renting a room in their home.
There are more and more students and business persons travelling looking for short term accommodations.
I agree with Williams on using the (word spreading ) method if a problem occurs with the proprietor.
I also agree with Williams that by regulating the short-term rental market will not solve the cities housing crises.
Let (the home owner) decide on how they run their own properties without the interference from the city.
Tammy-joy Dubetz

Add your comments or reply via Twitter @whitehorsestar

In order to encourage thoughtful and responsible discussion, website comments will not be visible until a moderator approves them. Please add comments judiciously and refrain from maligning any individual or institution. Read about our user comment and privacy policies.

Your name and email address are required before your comment is posted. Otherwise, your comment will not be posted.