Loading articles...

Councillors considering changes to Calgary short-term rental market

(Photo by Chelsey Harms/660 NEWS)

CALGARY (660 NEWS) — A committee at Calgary City Hall spent time Wednesday morning discussing the possibility of changes to the short-term rental market, as they heard comments from representatives of Airbnb and hoteliers.

There are several options on the table, as presented to the Standing Policy Committee on Community and Protective Services. Those range from introducing licensing fees, to limiting the number of nights a host can have a guest, to doing nothing at all and maintaining the status quo.

When it comes to the commercial operators, they said they are not concerned with competition.

“That is not our issue at all. We are just wanting to have a level playing field with the commercial operators,” said Peggy Athans, Executive Director of the Calgary Hotel Association. “It’s really that percentage of the short-term rental market that is operating as basically an illegal hotel in a residential unit, is what we have concern about.”

Athans said they also want Calgary to be the best destination for any visitor, including those who choose to stay in a short-term rental unit, but the current lack of regulations allow for the possibility of problems.

“When a host isn’t present, that’s when some of the unintended consequences occur. There isn’t somebody on site.”

Keith Robinson is an Airbnb host who has welcomed in over a thousand guests to his home in northwest Calgary. He is also not concerned about competition from the hotel market.

“Personally, I am in favour of some kind of a regulatory environment. I have no interest in doing this over the long term in a sort of shadowy, neverland. I think there should be some sort of licensing process.”

But after hearing concerns from the hotel operators, Robinson wants to be sure any changes are based in fact.

“On the reality of what actual experiences are. How short-term rentals are contributing to my family, to my street, to my community. Not be based on the fear, uncertainty and doubt that the hotel industry seems to be determined to spread.”

Robinson added that it’s a little curious the industry is suddenly becoming so vocal about this issue.

“When did the hotel industry suddenly become so concerned with my safety? Because it’s my home, it has to be safe. All of our guests get a little tutorial; where are the fire extinguishers, where’s the escape ladders for the second floor, what is the emergency protocol. That’s never happened to me at any hotel or motel in the world.”

A report was presented to committee members detailing some of the options, and it can be viewed here