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Local short-term rental units competing with accommodation sector

Ron Walter looks at the short-term rental market.
Bizworld by Ron Walter

The tragic fire in Montreal involving a heritage building with illegal Air BnB rental sites has raised awareness among some municipal leaders of these rentals and the risks.

Except in large cites these short-term rental sites are not regulated. In Saskatchewan, Regina and Saskatoon require an annual license.

That way the city and public know where rentals are and presumably can do inspections for fire safety measures.

The City of Moose Jaw has no mention of these rental units in the zoning or licensing bylaw. The zoning bylaw sets minimum and maximum sizes for secondary suites.

Perhaps the units may fall under the home occupation bylaw but that is doubtful.

Many local residents know nothing about these rental locations

Air BnB lists more than 40 places for rent in Moose Jaw with a map showing locations.

VRBO, another short-term rental operation, has 15 places in Moose Jaw where one can book for the night or week. This site doesn’t list locations until one starts looking for a place.

The Air BnB rentals are all over the city with a large number in the downtown, and others from South Hill to the north end. A few are on local farms and some are bed and breakfast homes.

Nightly rates range from $40 to $248.

These two short-term rental operations amount to another hotel in Moose Jaw. The licensed hotels in Moose Jaw spend time and money to meet fire, safety and public health standards.

Without regulations, no one knows what the short term rental units have for fire safety measures. One would expect them to be in good standing. Only people renting know.

Operators of local hotels and motels are facing unfair competition from them.

A tragic event such as the New Year’s Day fire of 2004 in Moose Jaw seemed to put a black mark on local tourism, given the absence of regulations.

The New Year’s Day fire destroyed three downtown heritage buildings but the nation-wide media coverage left many potential visitors believing the fire took out the entire heritage area and there was no reason to visit — as the tourism director of the time told me.

A fire in a short-term rental could impact our tourism image.

The variety of units for rent in Moose Jaw is amazing: all the way from one-bedroom units to entire condos and apartment units. One is a gorgeous looking loft in the downtown for $248 a night – or $1,239 a week.

Ron Walter can be reached at


The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the position of this publication.  

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