After the provincial government’s announcement last week that Airbnb will begin collecting a sales tax, Metchosin Mayor John Ranns said a discussion with council is needed to see if the District will move forward with regulating the industry. (Kendra Wong/News Gazette staff)

Airbnb announcement throws Metchosin into limbo

District still debating if it will move forward with regulations

With the province’s recent announcement to collect a sales tax on Airbnbs, it remains unclear if local municipalities, such as the District of Metchosin, will still move forward with regulating the industry.

“Our issue has to do with abuse of it [Airbnbs] in terms of our more heavily populated areas, such as Sandgate Road,” Mayor John Ranns said. “How we deal with it is focused on the concerns of the existing residents and the protection of their lifestyle.”

Last week, the provincial government announced Airbnb will begin collecting the eight per cent PST and the up-to three per cent municipal and regional district tax generated through short-term accommodations provided within the province.

RELATED: Short-term vacation rental workshop draws mixed reaction in Metchosin

To streamline the process, Airbnb will remit on behalf of its hosts in B.C., ensuring no additional administrative burden is placed on them. Money collected through the tax will be used to help fund affordable housing in the province and promoting local tourism.

“This is about a fair playing field, especially in the hospitality industry,” Finance Minister Carole James said.

According to the government, if Airbnb contributed to this tax in 2017, they would have collected about $18 million.

RELATED: Metchosin hosting workshop on ways to regulate Airbnbs

But Ranns said the District will not likely reap the benefits of the tax.

“Taxing it doesn’t do us any good … the taxation issue was more one of fairness,” he said. “We’re still looking at how to try and address all of the various concerns. We’ve got concerns from both sides, it’s a fairly complex issue.

“It’s fundamentally based on location, there’s only a couple of problem spots in the community,” Ranns said.

The issue of Airbnb and other short-term vacation rentals has been in the spotlight in Metchosin in recent months.

In January, the District hosted a workshop on ways to regulate the industry where some residents identified Sandgate Road as a problem area.

Residents in favour of short-term vacation rentals say it helps pay their mortgage, while those against say there have been issues with parking, due to multiple families renting a unit and a change in the overall feel of the neighbourhood.

Ranns said a discussion with council is necessary to see if the District will move forward with regulations.

– With files from Jen Zielinski

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kendra.wong@goldstreamgazette.com

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