Airbnb hosts, ho­tel own­ers face off

Both sides at testy pub­lic hear­ing raise con­cerns about po­ten­tial reg­u­la­tions MORE ON AIRBNB DE­BATE AT

StarMetro Calgary - - CALGARY - MADE­LINE SMITH

The Airbnb de­bate has re­turned to Cal­gary as hosts ac­tive on the plat­form for short­term rentals faced off against ho­tel own­ers at a pub­lic hear­ing about po­ten­tial reg­u­la­tion Wed­nes­day.

Cal­gar­i­ans who rent space on plat­forms like Airbnb voiced con­cerns about overly re­stric­tive reg­u­la­tions.

Ho­tel in­dus­try rep­re­sen­ta­tives spoke in favour of rules that would cre­ate a “level play­ing field” be­tween ho­tels and short-term rentals.

They ar­gued the short­term rentals were un­der­cut­ting their busi­nesses un­fairly.

They said they’d like to see rules like a cap on the num­ber of days per year short-term rental op­er­a­tors can rent their units and re­strict­ing rentals to an owner’s prin­ci­pal res­i­dence.

Svet Par­gov, who man­ages Airbnb units in Cal­gary, Can­more and Golden, B.C., said guide­lines like that would be a blow to his liveli­hood.

He started host­ing on Airbnb with his wife Tina Svet Par­gov and Tina Poon rent sev­eral Cal­gary units on Airbnb, and they say they want to see reg­u­la­tions that will al­low them to con­tinue to do busi­ness.

Poon af­ter Al­berta’s eco­nomic down­turn.

Par­gov has built a busi­ness man­ag­ing short-term rentals for other home­own­ers and said he’s on board with changes to li­cens­ing or tax re­quire­ments.

But a move to cap the num­ber of days he’s al­lowed to rent would make the busi­ness “un­ten­able.”

“It’s not a rea­son­able so­lu­tion

for Cal­gary where peo­ple are strug­gling to even rent their unit (long term),” Par­gov said.

“I just want to make things le­git­i­mate,” he added.

Ward 1 Coun­cil­lor Ward Suther­land re­quested last year that the city re­view over­sight of short-term rentals.

A re­port pre­sented Wed­nes­day rec­om­mended de­vel­op­ing a tiered busi­ness

li­cence cat­e­gory that would in­clude short-term rentals.

Cal­gary Ho­tel As­so­ci­a­tion ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor Peggy Athans said the rec­om­men­da­tions are a good first step but they don’t go far enough.

She ar­gued short-term rentals like Par­gov’s are “il­le­gal ho­tels within res­i­den­tial hous­ing” that are un­fairly not sub­ject to the same rules as ho­tels.

CHRISTINA RYAN STARMETRO CAL­GARY

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