Host of problems

After a 14-year-old’s raucous party drew a police presence (and international headlines) to a short-term rental home in West Vancouver Friday night, neighbours said the house on Ottawa Avenue is more Animal House than bed and breakfast.

Short-term rentals aren’t legal in any of the three North Shore municipalities. But someone should tell the owners of the hundreds of North Shore houses, condos and rooms listed on websites like VRBO and Airbnb. (At last count, the District of North Vancouver had 666 units reserved for people here for a good time, not a long time.)

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While they won’t hesitate to bring out the ticket book for parking violations, our bylaw officers can’t seem to find their way to any of these unregulated hotels, despite handy lists posted online.

West Vancouver council has been one of the most vocal in the Lower Mainland about the issues of housing speculation and foreign capital skewing the market. They bemoan their workforce not finding an affordable place to live but apparently haven’t asked their staff to go out and enforce their own bylaw; potentially bringing hundreds of units onto the long-term rental market and making speculation less lucrative.

The same goes for the two North Vancouvers, which are allowing their older purpose-built rental stock to be redeveloped but, as far as we can tell, haven’t lifted a finger to deal with short-term rentals eating into the housing supply.

Over the long-term, municipalities might need to draft new, inventive bylaws to deal with the housing crisis. But in the short-term, they need to enforce the bylaws they’ve got.

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