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N.B. housing minister pledges task force on short-term rentals at meeting with mayors

Short-term rentals were discussed at a meeting Housing Minister Jill Green hosted this week with various municipal officials. (Jill Green/Facebook - image credit)
Short-term rentals were discussed at a meeting Housing Minister Jill Green hosted this week with various municipal officials. (Jill Green/Facebook - image credit)

New Brunswick's housing minister pledged to mayors of the province's major cities to create a task force on regulating short-term rentals.

The topic came up when Jill Green, the minister responsible for housing, met municipal officials Wednesday in Fredericton to talk about housing.

Moncton Mayor Dawn Arnold said in an interview that Green told the mayors about 0.7 per cent of housing stock, or 3,400 units, across the province are used as short-term rentals.

"From a provincial perspective, it's not that big a deal," Arnold said of the minister's comments about the figures. "However, for Saint John, Fredericton, Moncton, Saint Andrews, it is a big deal."

Arnold said the minister committed to create a task force by mid-March to bring the province together with municipalities to look at regulations.

"So that we can ensure safety and ensure that these are taxed appropriately, ensure they're zoned appropriately and that they can be inspected and all of that sort of thing."

Serge Doucet, Moncton's chief administrative officer, and Mayor Dawn Arnold listen during public presentations on Monday evening.
Serge Doucet, Moncton's chief administrative officer, and Mayor Dawn Arnold listen during public presentations on Monday evening.

Moncton Mayor Dawn Arnold, right, says she believes the city needs short-term rental rules but wants a provincewide approach. (Shane Magee/CBC)

Green didn't provide an interview Friday.

Kate Wright, a spokesperson for the province, confirmed in an emailed statement that Green committed to launching a group to examine short-term rentals. Wright said the aim is to have the group launch in mid-March.

The statement did not address when the group's work is expected to be complete.

"Housing NB will also be using this information in its review to determine next steps," Wright wrote.

It's work Arnold believes will differ from a review that began last year by the Department of Tourism, Heritage and Culture.

"I do think that they had kind of looked at it in a different way, more tourism, separate from housing, and I think now they have a clearer picture of where to go," Arnold said.

Mayors of New Brunswick's major municipalities met with Jill Green, centre, the province's minister responsible for housing on Wednesday in Fredericton.
Mayors of New Brunswick's major municipalities met with Jill Green, centre, the province's minister responsible for housing on Wednesday in Fredericton.

Mayors of New Brunswick's major municipalities met with Jill Green, centre, the province's minister responsible for housing, on Wednesday in Fredericton. (Jill Green/Facebook)

The pledge by Green is a welcome one for Moncton Coun. Charles Léger.

Léger introduced a motion last year calling for Moncton to implement rules for short-term rentals focused on safety and inspections in the aftermath of a deadly fire at an Airbnb in Montreal.

Council has yet to vote on that motion. City staff have repeatedly recommended delaying a decision while waiting to see what the province does. The issue returned to Moncton council Monday with the same wait-and-see recommendation.

Léger initially moved to instead have staff start drafting rules, but after about 30 minutes of discussion council again opted to wait for the province.

"We need to move forward with something," Arnold said Friday. "But for us to come up with a just Moncton approach doesn't make sense."

Most listings offer entire home or apartment

Municipal staff told councillors there were 691 short-term rental listings in the city as of January, most through Airbnb. Of the total, 538 were to rent an entire home, while 153 were private rooms within a dwelling.

Léger said other provinces or cities have enacted regulations on short-term rentals, so there are approaches the province could adopt.

"I think it can be relatively a quickly enacted if the willingness in there, and I'm hoping that that's what we'll see," Léger said.