City of Calgary and UCalgary researchers launch public engagement on short-term rentals

Amid a major crackdown from the B.C. government to free up housing for long-term rentals, the City of Calgary and UCalgary researchers are launching a public engagement study on short-term rentals. Henna Saeed reports.

UCalgary and the City of Calgary have launched a public consultation to help understand the issues and opportunities for short-term rentals in Calgary that will help guide the city council in future policymaking.

They have launched the first phase of a two-part public engagement on short-term rentals (STRs)

The city says this initiative is one component of a multi-year research collaboration aimed at developing an evidence-based policy framework for STRs, approved by council in December 2022.

“It was identified at that time by council that there was a need to fully understand what’s happening in the STR market and also ensure that Calgarians’ voices were heard,” said Ulrik Seward, manager of business and building safety with the city.

The affordable housing crisis is not limited to Calgary. Recently, the British Columbia government did a major crackdown on short term rentals in Vancouver, to free up housing for long-term rentals.

But Dr. Lindsay Tedds, associate professor of economics at UCalgary. says what works in Toronto and Vancouver doesn’t necessarily work in Calgary.

“In Calgary, we are really focused on health and safety. We don’t see the level and magnitude of short-term rentals like Toronto and Vancouver,” she said. “So its about developing a smart and flexible regulatory framework, so that regulations can be modified as cost and benefits or change.

“Making sure that people can have their flexible short term rentals, like at Stampede or during the winter when they go away,” Tedds continued. “Also moderating commercial entities, from buying a lot of houses and turning them into short term rentals. But no this is not a solution to the housing crisis at all.”

In the first phase of this study, the city has launched a survey from Oct. 19 to Dec. 31, asking Calgarians about their experiences with short-term rentals, how it impacts communities, and what they see as current and future concerns.

“Calgarians can go to,” explained Seward. “The work that we are doing with the university will also involve some targeted participants that are member of the STR community that will be participating in focus groups.”

This consultation with STR operators will also include AirBnB and representatives from the tourism, business and housing sectors.

The second phase of this public engagement will take place between July to September 2024 and then the final report will be delivered to council over a year from now in December 2024.

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