By V Adams

Home Truths: Implications of Short-Term Vacation Rentals on Victoria’s Housing Market, a white paper by Victoria Adams, explores an important issue for the residents and local government of our tourist-destination capital City.

The purpose of this paper is to invite discussion among home-owners and tenants; hoteliers and tourism operators; policy analysts; planning professionals and politicians about the growing impact of home-sharing platforms—Airbnb, VRBO and HomeAway, on the character of our City’s neighbourhoods. What are the consequences for the City’s housing market, in light of the rental housing shortage, low vacancy rate, soaring rents and housing prices, and the increasing prevalence of evictions and homelessness?

Many factors—demographic, economic, and social—affect our shifting urban landscape. One factor that exacerbates the growing conflicts between property-owners, tenants, and neighbours is the rapid growth of the “home-sharing” economy and the shift of residential property (the need for shelter) to an investment vehicle.

Who enjoys the economic benefits of short-term vacation rentals, suite deals? Tourists, family members, and friends looking for an inexpensive alternative to a hotel; or, owners of private homes and condos who rent out space to help pay down their mortgage and the online accommodation platforms which charge a fee for booking and services. What makes this such a compelling case? Unlike the City’s other traditional accommodation suppliers, this new “sharing” economy enterprises remain untaxed, unlicensed and unregulated.

This paper examines the impact of this new economy in areas where short-term holiday home rentals overlap with a dwindling supply of rental housing stock. New high-rise condo developments, their concentration in the downtown hotel zone and nearby neighbourhoods such as James Bay and Fairfield, are playing out in a City comprised of tenant households and a growing homeless population; this, amidst an influx of more than three million tourists annually.

The paper’s grass-roots examination of how an emerging home-sharing economy affects the quality of life of residents in the “City of Gardens,” raises important questions: How do we balance individual freedoms and social consequences? Do property rights trump matters of social justice and community well-being? What public policies are needed to guide local government re decisions that can prohibit, regulate or promote various technologies impacting our City? Should government action be based on identified special interests? Or should it be based on balancing wide-ranging personal choice with the well-being of all citizens?

For a copy of the report submitted to the City of Victoria as part of Council’s workshop on short-term vacation rentals, January 19, 2017, please email: or pick-up a hard copy at James Bay New Horizons, 234 Menzies Street, or James Bay Beacon, #7-435 Simcoe Street, Victoria, B.C.


About Victoria Adams: A retired community development consultant, member of former Victoria Mayor Alan Lowe’s Downtown Advisory Committee, and a UBC urban geography graduate, this 18-year resident of James Bay enjoys her new role as an independent public affairs commentator in her father’s birthplace, and island capital city that also bears her name.