Watson says city can’t regulate Airbnb in Ottawa just yet

Mayor says city doesn't have resources right now, but may look again in next council term


Ottawa won’t be following in Toronto’s footsteps to regulate room-sharing services like Airbnb, at least not for now.

City staff in Toronto announced this week proposed regulations that would require units to register with the city and limit short-term rentals to a person’s primary residence.

The proposed changes in Toronto are meant to ensure permanent rental housing doesn’t disappear from the market in favour of short-term rentals.

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Airbnb is an app that allows people to rent rooms or entire private homes, as with hotels, but through an app.

Ottawa bylaw manager Roger Chapman said the issue just isn’t top of mind.

“The city neither regulates the zoning of, nor licenses Airbnb or its accommodation units. As such, the city is not tracking the number of units in Ottawa,” he said in a statement.

He said while hotels are regulated from a land-use point of view, the city isn’t so far considering anything similar for Airbnb.

“There is currently no city report on the subject of Airbnb, nor is it contemplating specific regulation in this term of council.”

Mayor Jim Watson said the city simply doesn’t have the resources to dig into the issue right now and likely won’t until the next term of council.

“We have a lot of balls in the air on that file and we told the tourism industry we would look at the Airbnb issue, but we can’t deal with it in the next six or 12 months.”

He said he doesn’t worry about the odd person renting out a room in their house occasionally, but there is a challenge with people constantly renting out apartments for a few days at a time constantly.  

He said he’s interested to see what happens in Toronto.

“We will follow what Toronto’s doing and see how they implement it, but this is something we really don’t have a lot of resources to deal with right now.”

This article originally appeared in Metro News.

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