COUNCILLOR ALTERNATIVE REALITY – Rather than face an unruly mob, Lisa has recused herself from tonight’s discussion of short-term rentals and has appointed me acting mayor in her place. Thanks for that, Lisa. Our first speaker is Bev Jones.
BEV – I’d like everybody to know I don’t have an Airbnb. But I do stay at Airbnbs when I travel. I find them very convenient and so much less than the cost of a hotel. Come to think of it, if I did own a short-term rental, I’d probably have even more money to travel and could afford to stay at a hotel. Kind of ironic, don’t you think?
MAYOR MARIANNE – I must say it is rather. Thanks, Bev. I see we have your other, if not better, half on deck as usual. Welcome, Bob.
BOB – I’d like to offer irrefutable proof to council that short-term rentals have no impact on vacancy rates. Do you know what the vacancy rate in Victoria is in 2017? Zero point five percent. Do you know what the vacancy rate was in Victoria in 2008 before Airbnb came into existence? Zero point five percent. Just like I said, irrefutable proof that short-term rentals have no impact on vacancy rates. So how do you like dem apples?
MAYOR MARIANNE – Those are some apples, Bob. Next we have Mr. Nursery, representing the hotel and hospitality industry.
MR. NURSERY – Thank-you, Mayor Marianne. Pardon me if I happen to shed a tear when I tell you workers in the hospitality industry are having trouble finding rental accommodation in Victoria. We pay them peanuts and yet they can’t find a place to live. WILL SOMEONE PLEASE EXPLAIN THIS TO ME! I hope council tonight votes to not just ban short-term rentals but to nuke them out of existence. I mean what a stupid name. AIRBNB! It sounds like you’re renting a hot air balloon. That’s all I have to say.
MAYOR MARIANNE – Thank-you, Mr. Nursery. By the way, is that your real face or a rubber mask?
MR. NURSERY – A rubber mask.
MAYOR MARIANNE – I thought so. I’m wearing a rubber mask tonight too, just in case. Next up we have Plain Jane and Plump Jane.
PLAIN JANE – Mayor, council. I purchased my condo operating under the belief that I could use one of the rooms to generate income. If you ban short-term rentals, I’ll be totally screwed and have to move back in with my parents.
PLUMP JANE – At least you’ll have somewhere to go! I just got renovicted from the place I’ve been living at for ten years. Even though I make a decent income, I’ve found it next to impossible to find a new place to rent. It looks like my only option is to go to Jenner Chev Olds on the Old Island Highway and buy myself a van just so I’ll have somewhere to call home.
MAYOR MARIANNE – Thank-you, Jane and Jane. At this point, we usually go around the table and listen to each councillor repeat what the councillor before them has just said. Tonight though, in order to speed things up, and get me out of the hot seat a little sooner, I’m going to ask Councillor Coalman to do a final summing up.
COUNCILLOR COALMAN – Thank-you, Acting Mayor. As I see it, when it comes to short-term rentals we are faced with two seemingly irreconcilable schools of thought.
COUNCILLOR JOE THORNTON – It’s a tough one.
COUNCILLOR COALMAN – You can say that again, Joe. One school of thought believes the city should ban short-term rentals outright. The other school of thought thinks the city should get out of the way and let the free market operate without restriction. In trying to cater to both sides, staff has once again managed to satisfy neither.