New Short-Term Rental Legislation (Bill 35)

New Short-Term Rental Legislation and the Cowichan Valley Regional District (CVRD)

Bill 35

What is Bill 35 (Short-Term Rental (STR) Legislation)?

Bill 35 Short-Term Rental Accommodation Act is Provincial legislation that has been enacted as a response to the current housing crisis, with shortage of all forms of attainable housing, including long-term rentals. The purpose of this Provincial Act is to:

    Give local governments stronger tools to enforce short-term rental bylaws
    Return short-term rental units to the long-term housing market
    Establish a new Provincial role in the regulation of short-term rentals
    Offer regional districts the opportunity to opt into the “principal residence requirement”

The new BC legislation restricts short-term rentals to principal residences in communities with a population of 10,000 and over, as well as smaller neighbouring communities (listed on this page), where short-term rentals are permitted by local government zoning regulations. 

Notwithstanding, local governments may choose to permit or not permit short-term rentals through their zoning regulations.

By default, smaller communities (such as CVRD electoral areas) are “exempt” from this requirement but may request to “opt in” to the principal residence requirement on an annual basis. 

Please see the Province’s new rules for short-term rentals and overview webpage for more information. 

How will Bill 35 impact my property? 

In order to operate a short-term rental (STR) on your property, it must be permitted within the zoning of the property. Bill 35 has been enacted to give local governments stronger enforcement tools for their short-term rental bylaws. 

Within the electoral areas of the CVRD, most residentially-zoned parcels do not currently permit the use of short-term rentals. Fewer than 100 parcels of land throughout the CVRD permit short-term rentals, which include: the CD-5 Zone in Mill Bay (Sandy Beach Cottages), the W-8 Zone in Cowichan Bay Village (Cowichan Bay stilt homes), the CD-2 Zone in Cowichan Lake/Skutz Falls (Pebbles West), and the LR-11 Zone in Youbou/Meade Creek. 

The Province is also removing any possible “lawful non-conformity” for STRs that existed before Bill 35 from those uses, ensuring that in the wake of any local government zoning amendments that post-date Bill 35, STR uses may only occur following such amendments if the current zoning bylaw permits a STR.

To inquire whether your property permits the use of a short-term rental, please contact Development Services at ds@cvrd.bc.ca

Have any Bill 35 changes been implemented at the CVRD?

Zoning bylaws which regulate the permitted uses, including short-term accommodation, on properties within the CVRD are currently in effect. 

The CVRD Board of Directors decided to request to opt in to the principal residence requirement for six electoral areas, with the expectation that where short-term rentals are allowed or may be allowed in future in these electoral areas, the owner will have to live within the residence. Whole home short-term rentals will not be permitted.

In March, 2024, the CVRD Board sent a formal request to the Minister of Housing for the following electoral areas to opt-in to the Principal Residence Requirement of the Short-Term Rental Accommodation Act:

    Electoral Area A – Mill Bay/Malahat
    Electoral Area C – Cobble Hill
    Electoral Area E – Cowichan Station/Sahtlam/Glenora
    Electoral Area F – Cowichan Lake South/Skutz Falls
    Electoral Area G – Saltair
    Electoral Area H – North Oyster/Diamond

The Board did not request changes to exempt land for Electoral Area B (Shawnigan Lake), D (Cowichan Bay), or I (Youbou/Meade Creek). These areas that did not want to opt in have some zones that permit a combination of permanent residential uses and short-term rentals. For these three electoral areas, opting in would mean that short-term rentals could only occur with owners living onsite (e.g. whole-home rentals would not be permitted) and the Board determined this could be problematic for the owners who purchased property while this option was legal.

Are there upcoming decisions to be made regarding Bill 35?

In most of our zones across the electoral areas, short-term rentals are not permitted. Traditional style Bed and Breakfasts are generally permitted in most residential zones providing the owner or operator resides within the dwelling and serves breakfast to guests (please check with ds@cvrd.bc.ca to confirm zoning and electoral area specific regulations). 

The CVRD Board has asked staff to initiate a couple of different approaches to regulate short-term rentals, which include exploring the following:

  • Temporary Use Permits (TUP), which would provide the opportunity for a property owner to seek approval to temporarily permit a short-term rental even where the zoning does not permit it; and,
  • Establishing a business licensing process for short-term rentals. 
    Business licensing is a new authority that has been granted to regional districts and it would provide the CVRD the opportunity to more efficiently regulate short-term rentals with the intent to support the tourism economy and avoid negative impacts of transient tourist activity on established neighbourhoods.

As the CVRD Board of Directors makes decisions whether to implement Temporary Use Permits and business licensing for short-term rentals, more information will be made available to the public and there will be opportunities to provide input.

You can view staff’s reports from Electoral Area Service Committee (EASC) Meeting agendas here:

•    Short-Term Rental Regulations on the November 1, 2023 agenda, item R4

•    Short-Term Rental Accommodations Act Principal Residence Requirements report on the November 15, 2023 agenda, item R8

•    Bill 35 – Short-Term Rentals and CVRD Land Use Bylaws report on the March 20, 2024 agenda, item R1.