Canmore Cracks Down on Illegal AirBnB Rentals

The Town of Canmore is trying to slow the increase of illegal vacation rentals in the residential neighbourhoods with a campaign and new resources to increase enforcement efforts.

There are over 300 units available in Canmore on AirBnB with more on VRBO and other short-term vacation rental websites. It’s made it easy for homeowners with a extra space to rent it out on a nightly basis.

Outside magazine recently published an article title Did AirBnB Kill the Mountain Town, in which it noted, “Living the dream has never been easy in the West’s most beloved adventure hamlets, where homes are a fortune and good jobs are few.

“But the rise of online short-term rentals may be the tipping point that causes idyllic outposts like Crested Butte, Colorado, to lose their middle class altogether—and with it, their soul.” The same can be said about Canmore and other Canadian mountain towns.

Canmore AirBnB rental for $800/night

The Rocky Mountain Outlook noted, “Short-term vacation rentals have been causing havoc in small tourist towns and major urban centres alike across North America, competing with hotel properties and eroding the local rental housing market at the same time.”

Manager of municipal infrastructure in Canmore Michael Fark recently said, “Due to the increase both in this type of use and complaints surrounding it, the Town has contracted additional resources at this time to enable us to engage in enforcement at a higher level.

“By engaging in education and then, if necessary, enforcement, we are hoping to gain compliance with the regulations.”

In 2018, a Land Use Bylaw rewrite will take place to address the issue. “We have planned an update to the Land Use Bylaw that will bring in place updated regulations to address this issue of short-term rentals in residential neighbourhoods.”

Resort living in a Canmore community

Neighbourhoods are not designed for tourist accommodation use. “The transitory nature of this kind of commercial use is not traditionally done in residential areas and people have concerns over noise, security and property values so that, I think, is the basis for a lot of residents’ concerns over having AirBnB in neighbourhoods.”

Commercial properties in Canmore have a different tax rate than residential, including hotels. “By renting out residential units as commercial operations and not paying the corresponding property tax rate, there is inequity within the local tax system,” noted Rocky Mountain Outlook.

Canmore Mayor John Borrowman knows the issue is critical because it affects the local housing market. “One of the worries is having our residential neighbourhoods slowly turn into hotel districts,” he said. “Equally of concern is the erosion of our long-term rental inventory.

“Every time someone takes a rentable unit, whether it is a one-bedroom or a basement suite, and they decide to put it into a nightly rental for more money, that is one more rental unit that people who work and live in Canmore that we depend on cannot access.

“It is a serious problem and a growing problem, not only in Canmore, but across the world.”