‘You rent out your cottage as an Airbnb?’ Camp asked me. I had barely sat down.

“Yeah, we’ve done it for 15 years, first as a B&B and we were part of an association here on the coast which in time got replaced by the no-brainer easy-as-pie Airbnb. They do everything: reservations, bookkeeping, correspondence, peer-reviews, collect and payout the money and arbitrate in case of trouble. They are really a fantastic service.’

‘Considering it started as a couch surfing app. Yes, they have become the most successful millennial organisation. They are so successful; they’ve created a monster and like all monsters it needs to be tamed.’

‘You’re referring to the latest rules and regulations here in lovely Gibsons town?’

‘Yes, and I would like to have your valuable input,’ Camp said, sitting back.

‘Well, for one thing, we are not in the town of Gibsons so it doesn’t affect us. We are in the regional district,’ I pointed out. ‘In fact, it probably drives more people our way due to the new rules. All I know is that the town hired an expensive consultant. He recommended a sliding scale from lenient to draconian. The town council voted towards the latter, despite some pushback at public hearings. As of this year, you need a Temporary Use Permits (TPU) for non-principal residencies, meaning a basement apartment, cottage or granny suite has to pay a one-time application fee of $ 1500 and a business licence fee of $ 2000.’

‘I didn’t know it was that much. If you rent out your place for $ 150 per night that comes to about 23 nights. I guess the nightly fees will go up.’

‘Not only that but out of the about 90 Airbnb listings in Gibsons, only about 30 have followed through and applied. The rest just closed down. Not one of them has so far listed their units for long term or permanent rentals. They just keep it for family and friends. All those potential visitors are not eating and drinking in our restaurants or renting kayaks or buying stuff, translating into thousands of dollars missing from the local economy. I don’t call that taming the monster, more like chaining it on a very short leash, practically strangling it.’

‘I get the point but the fact is that housing here on the coast is unaffordable for people on fixed pension incomes and single parent families. Look at Vicky, our server who lives with her mom. I had a chat with a senior on the bus the other day. She is renting a tiny cottage here on the coast and spends 75% of her fixed income on rent.’

‘But limiting short term rentals does not translate into affordable long-term housing,’ I said. ‘I think the new provincial Bill 44, which takes away rental restrictions for condos, will help and bring thousands of units on the market. We also need more co-ops and the towns need to support rental units built by pension plans and corporations, as they do in Switzerland and Scandinavia. This North-American myth of single-family housing with their two car garages and backyard bbq’s is not sustainable for today. It used to take about 3-5 years incomes to buy a house; today it’s about 10 years incomes.’

‘That’s coming from somebody who has the single-family house except there are only 2 childless seniors living in it. How many bathrooms do you have?’

‘You’re right Camp. Just behind us is a subdivision of so called ‘dream homes’, all of them with multiple bathrooms and inhabited by retired seniors. There is only one family, out of 20 homes, that has kids. Consider where I grew up, every house and apartment had kids and we ran in and out of our neighbour’s homes like it was one big family.’

‘Times are a’changing my friend. Having kids today is a luxury, when it takes two working parents to maintain a modern life style. It wasn’t easy then and it’s not easy now.’

‘Words of wisdom,’ I said, a tad cynical. Just then Vicky dropped by with two fresh brews. ‘I hear you two talking about Airbnb’s. If you hear of any permanent rentals, please let me know. I cannot keep living with my mom. We’re driving each other crazy.’

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