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Calgary wants your feedback on short-term rentals in the city

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As a housing crisis continues in Calgary and with a new housing strategy in place, the City of Calgary has partnered with the University of Calgary to look at short-term rentals.

The city has launched an online survey to ask people how often they use services such as Airbnb and VRBO, what people think about the impact of short-term rentals on the community and whether changes should be made to the city's rules.

"The purpose is so that we can find opportunities to enhance the regulations that we already have," said Ulrik Seward, Calgary's manager of business and building safety.

"Short-term rentals are very specific to the city that it's happening in. So it's kind of hard to paint all short-term rental situations with the same brush. So we're being very careful," he said.

Calgary defines a short-term rental as a dwelling that offers temporary accommodation for a cost for fewer than 31 days. As of 2020, Calgary requires hosts to have a business licence for each property that is rented out.

Calgary's close look at short-term rentals comes as other governments crack down on listings. Calling the situation out of control, British Columbia announced new rules that essentially eliminate short-term rentals in residences where the owner doesn't live.

However, experts in Calgary say this city's market is much different than in places such as Vancouver and Toronto.

"It's smaller, it's younger. It's not as concentrated. And we also have some interesting short-term rental development out in our newer communities like Seton," said Lindsay Tedds, an economics professor at the University of Calgary who heads the research team the city has parterned with for the project.

Some property managers suggest short-term rentals may even serve as a solution to Calgary's housing woes.

"We have tons of new people coming to Canada, especially Calgary, Alberta – it's the fastest growing province, right," said Jerod McMurray with the property management company Aisling Baile.

"So what we see a ton of is people that need mid-term to long-term stays while they're waiting for maybe a new house or maybe they're closing on a house," he said.

Calgary has just under 4,500 short-term business licences considered active.

The online survey is open until the end of this year. Any possible recommendations and a report on the project's findings will be released at the end of 2024.

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