Coun. Steve Roddick speaks during a council meeting in Whitehorse on June 17. Roddick campaigned on a platform of short-term rental regulations and says that they could be critical to solving the city’s housing crisis. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)

Whitehorse eyes short-term rental regulations

A public survey is open until July 28

The City of Whitehorse released a survey that asks residents about how they think short-term rental accommodations should be regulated in the future.

Short-term rental accommodations are rental units leased out for less than one month, usually through online services such as Airbnb. According to the survey, there are over 150 short-term rental units in Whitehorse.

The city is planning to regulate them to address their impact on the rental market, but officials don’t know what those regulations are going to be yet.

“Short-term rentals impact the long-term rental market because they’re not available for that,” said Whitehorse city planner Kinden Kosick. “So we want to get some information on how many people are using them and how many people are out there and sort of what the appetite for them is in what type of units.”

Kosick said that Whitehorse is studying what regulations other municipalities have placed on short-term rentals, but added that whatever regulations they develop will be created specifically to suit Whitehorse’s housing and rental market.

“We know that Airbnb’s are a good mortgage helper and help with affordability for homeowners, and we know that tourism has had a big increase in the past couple of years,” he said. “So it’s going to be something that is tailored to those things as well.”

One survey question asks respondents which types of dwellings short-term rental units should be allowed in. Bedrooms in primary residences, secondary suites on one’s primary property, income-based secondary properties and primary residences temporarily unoccupied by their owners are listed as possible choices for this question.

Another question weighs the idea of requiring short-term residential unit hosts to go through regulatory hoops such as requiring business licenses and receiving regular safety inspections.

Respondents are also asked if they would like to see additional taxes on short-term rental accommodations and fees for short-term rental unit hosts who don’t follow regulations.

Outside of policy ideas, the survey asks respondents for their thoughts on how short-term residential units have affected the rental market and economy, respectively. There are also a set of questions for hosts that asks about the type of accommodations they offer and how they’re used.

“I just see effective regulations for short-term rentals as a critical part of our response to our housing crisis,” said Whitehorse City Councillor Steve Roddick, who has previously expressed interest in regulating the industry.

On one hand, Roddick supports people renting out spare rooms within their house on the short-term rental market. However, he’s concerned about people renting out secondary properties to short-term renters rather than long-term tenants.

“More and more people are using their housing for short-term rentals that serves visitors and tourists instead of long-term rentals to residents, just because you can make more money doing that,” he said.

“If you have a spare bedroom or if you want to rent out your place while you’re on vacation, that’s fantastic. That helps people make extra income, that contributes to economic development, that contributes to tourism. I think it’s great. The problem is where you have people who have living spaces that could otherwise be rented to long-term tenants.”

Like Kosick, Roddick specified that whatever potential regulations the city might place on short-term rental accommodations should be cultivated to fit Whitehorse’s specific housing market. Aspects he believes need to be taken into account include the importance of tourism to Whitehorse’s economy, the on-off presence of miners looking for short-term accommodations and the low amount of hotels in the city (although he noted more hotels are currently being built).

Whitehorse Chamber of Commerce chair Mike Pemberton also noted the city’s lack of hotels — however, he sees short-term rental units as a way to fill that gap and provide a range of options for people seeking short-term living accommodations. He also hasn’t heard any complaints from Whitehorse hotels about them either.

“If it was an issue that was floating, then we would be all over it at the chamber for sure,” he said. “But it’s not.”

Pemberton said he supports some regulations on short-term rental units such as regular unit inspections and requiring hosts to get a business license. However, he cautioned the city against creating overly restrictive regulations.

“Have regulation, but don’t make it difficult for people to do,” he said. “Don’t create too much red tape.”

He also dismissed Roddick’s concerns on secondary homes listed for short-term rental possibly affecting the Whitehorse rental market.

“Isn’t that a rental? If I own the home, shouldn’t it be my decision on what I want to do with it? They can’t take away what someone wants to do with their property. That makes no sense to me.”

The survey is open until July 28. It is available on the city’s website under “public consultations.”

Contact Johua Azizi at joshua.azizi@yukon-news.com

rental market

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: Are they coming?

One of COVID-19’s big economic questions is whether it will prompt a… Continue reading

Yukon MP Larry Bagnell, along with Yukon health and education delegates, announce a new medical research initiative via a Zoom conference on Jan. 21. (Screen shot)
New medical research unit at Yukon University launched

The SPOR SUPPORT Unit will implement patient-first research practices

Yukon First Nation Education Directorate members Bill Bennett, community engagement coordinator and Mobile Therapeutic Unit team lead, left, and Katherine Alexander, director of policy and analytics, speak to the News about the Mobile Therapeutic Unit that will provide education and health support to students in the communities. (yfned.ca)
Mobile Therapeutic Unit will bring education, health support to Indigenous rural students

The mobile unit will begin travelling to communities in the coming weeks

Premier Sandy Silver, left, and Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley, speak during a live stream in Whitehorse on January 20, about the new swish and gargle COVID-19 tests. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Swish and spit COVID-19 test now available in Yukon

Vaccination efforts continue in Whitehorse and smaller communities in the territory

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police detachment in Faro photgraphed in 2016. Faro will receive a new RCMP detachment in 2022, replacing the decades-old building currently accommodating officers. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Faro RCMP tagged for new detachment

Faro will receive a new RCMP detachment in 2022, replacing the decades-old… Continue reading

In a Jan. 18 announcement, the Yukon government said the shingles vaccine is now being publicly funded for Yukoners between age 65 and 70, while the HPV vaccine program has been expanded to all Yukoners up to and including age 26. (1213rf.com)
Changes made to shingles, HPV vaccine programs

Pharmacists in the Yukon can now provide the shingles vaccine and the… Continue reading

Parking attendant Const. Ouellet puts a parking ticket on the windshield of a vehicle in downtown Whitehorse on Dec. 6, 2018. The City of Whitehorse is hoping to write of nearly $300,000 in outstanding fees, bylaw fines and court fees, $20,225 of which is attributed to parking fines issued to non-Yukon license plates. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
City of Whitehorse could write off nearly $300,000

The City of Whitehorse could write off $294,345 in outstanding fees, bylaw… Continue reading

Grants available to address gender-based violence

Organizations could receive up to $200,000

In this illustration, artist-journalist Charles Fripp reveals the human side of tragedy on the Stikine trail to the Klondike in 1898. A man chases his partner around the tent with an axe, while a third man follows, attempting to intervene. (The Daily Graphic/July 27, 1898)
History Hunter: Charles Fripp — gold rush artist

The Alaskan coastal town of Wrangell was ill-equipped for the tide of… Continue reading

A man walks passed the polling place sign at city hall in Whitehorse on Oct. 18, 2018. While Whitehorse Mayor Dan Curtis is now setting his sights on the upcoming territorial election, other members of council are still pondering their election plans for the coming year. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Councillors undecided on election plans

Municipal vote set for Oct. 21

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decicions made by Whitehorse city council this week.

A file photo of grizzly bear along the highway outside Dawson City. Yukon conservation officers euthanized a grizzly bear Jan. 15 that was originally sighted near Braeburn. (Alistair Maitland/Yukon News file)
Male grizzly euthanized near Braeburn

Yukon conservation officers have euthanized a grizzly bear that was originally sighted… Continue reading

Most Read