Community Impacts of B&B Uses

There is a very real and drastic housing supply shortage across the District of Ucluelet. According to the 2016 Census, 30% of households in Ucluelet are renter households, much higher than what is normally observed in smaller communities in part due to the number of younger workers employed in the tourism and hospitality sectors. The Ucluelet Housing Needs Report findings showed that the reduced availability of long-term rentals is impacting the social, economic, and cultural fabric of the community for many renters. Forty-nine percent (49%) of renter respondents who responded to the community survey indicated that their current housing costs were unaffordable to them. Tourism and hospitality sector employees, especially those in seasonal positions, were identified as a subsection of residents facing disproportionate housing challenges. The expansion of short term rentals in residential areas will not only require more of these types of workers but it would also displace their available housing. Many employers attributed staff shortages to the lack of affordable rental supply and 86% of respondents to the tourism and hospitality survey conducted as part of this study agreed or strongly agreed that housing was a barrier to living permanently on the West Coast.

UHNR pic 1

While individual hosts and guests may benefit economically, the use of short-term rentals can have significant consequences for the surrounding community. Studies have found that growth in short-term rental numbers causes fewer affordable housing options, higher average rents, and erodes neighborhood social capital. Research also shows that that many of the benefits of short-term rental accommodations flow to wealthier hosts and guests, keeping less privileged members of communities out of these income and equity streams. While traditional residential neighbourhoods feature mutually invested neighbours, having growing numbers of tourist accommodations in these neighbourhoods means there are tourists with needs that can conflict with those of permanent residents. While most Ucluelet residents bear the costs of increasing tourism (including strain on local resources, higher traffic, pollution, environmental degradation, etc.), residents who do not have access to stable housing or do not own property experience the harms of increasing STRs without the associated benefits.

“There needs to be a cap on airbnbs. Ukee has a 0% rental market and it makes it impossible for families to live & make a living here.”
- Ucluelet Housing Needs Report Respondent

“Several have been forced to move (or leave town) when a property sold or was renovated and turned into an airbnb or short term rental. It affects your sense of community when houses in your neighbourhood are not lived in by residents, or sit empty for a large part of the year.”
- Ucluelet Housing Needs Report Respondent

The Ucluelet Housing Needs Report found that renter households earn significantly less income than owner households in this community but pay similar monthly costs for housing. Within very tight rental markets like Ucluelet’s, the diversion of long-term rental stock into short-term B&B rentals is making the affordability challenge worse. Ucluelet’s most vulnerable community members, including renters, low-income residents, seniors, and people on disability assistance and fixed incomes are most affected by the prioritization of tourist housing options. The proliferation of B&B uses at the expense of secondary suites increases hardships experienced by residents who already face significant inequality.