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Opinion: Vancouver leading the way on home-sharing in Canada


Alex Dagg is public-policy manager for Airbnb in Canada. Mark van Manen / PNG

Thousands of people across Vancouver were watching this week as their city became the first major market in Canada to legitimize home-sharing. We took our role working with the city seriously and the regulations that were passed reflect a straightforward, common-sense approach that is tailored to Vancouver’s unique needs.

Throughout this long and thoughtful debate, it was evident that Vancouverites are strongly engaged in issues that affect their city. We worked closely with city officials throughout this process to address the specific concerns that were raised, and provided data and information about our host community.

We are pleased that Vancouver has recognized the value that home-sharing provides for both families and the local economy. While the law isn’t perfect, it represents a historic moment for the home-sharing community of Canada and is a win for Vancouver, our hosts and the millions who travel to this city each year.

This is also great news for the city as a whole. Legitimizing home-sharing will help drive Vancouver’s local economy — bringing in additional visitors, supporting local businesses and demonstrating to the world that Vancouver is leading the way on embracing innovation.

Importantly, the law recognizes home-sharing for the vast majority of hosts in the city, 82 per cent of whom are sharing their primary residence. The extra income this provides for hosts and their families is critical. It’s helping thousands of Vancouverites pay the bills and make ends meet every month.

With these new rules in place, hosts who are sharing their primary residence can now apply for a business licence that will cost $50 per year to continue sharing their city with travellers from around the world. Licensing will be handled directly by the city and hosts must display their licence number when they advertise their listing.

Keeping the rules simple for hosts is the right move. Our experience in jurisdictions around the world has shown that cities who adopt an easy-to-follow process see higher compliance. Our hosts want to follow the rules, and this streamlined approach makes sense.

While Vancouver may be the first major city in Canada to have regulated home-sharing, they certainly won’t be the last. We are currently continuing to work with city officials in Toronto on how we can best support and regulate home-sharing there. While some of the issues they face are the same as those here in Vancouver, they also have their own specific concerns. We hope to see a similarly unique and forward-thinking approach adopted by the City of Toronto in the coming weeks.

Around the globe, Airbnb continues to build momentum — we are in 65,000 cities and 191 countries around the world. Our more than four million listings have hosted 260 million guest-stays.

Just this week, Seattle city council passed a tax on short-term rentals that will generate roughly US$7 million a year for the city, and in France, we outlined new rules for hosts in some of the most popular parts of Paris.

Every city is different. And we have dedicated our work with cities like Vancouver to recognizing those differences and finding the rules that work for them. We have partnered with more than 400 communities worldwide to develop regulations and we are building that number every week.

The law that was passed by Vancouver city council is a positive step forward and we look forward to working with officials here, and throughout the country, on improving and developing frameworks that meet their needs. If there’s one thing I learned in my years as a union organizer, it’s that a law is a good law only when it works — and we’re committed to making it work.

Airbnb is proud to be a part of the Vancouver community, now and into the future.

By Alex Dagg Courtesy Vancouver Sun

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