Canada’s National Observer, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
A remote Canadian island is breaking ground on a new way to buffer the negative effects short-term vacation rentals have on the housing crisis facing small, rural tourism-based communities.
B.C.’s Cortes Island is making housing history as the first community in the province to tax short-term holiday rentals and have all the funds directed to affordable housing projects, said Mark Vonesch, the area’s Strathcona Regional District director.
Continue reading A remote Canadian island makes history in fight for affordable housing
On May 16, Mark Vonesch, Regional Director for Cortes Island issued a press release stating, “I’m excited to let you know that the provincial government has approved Cortes Island’s short term rental tax application. Starting on July 1st, tourists will pay an extra 3% on their short term rental bookings and the funds will be collected by the provincial government and sent to the Cortes Housing Society on a monthly basis to contribute to the development of Rainbow Ridge rental housing.”
“This is the first time in BC history that a community is using the tax entirely for housing and the provincial government had to amend their legislation to make it possible.”
Continue reading BC Government approves 3% tax on Cortes Island short term rentals
One of the biggest stories coming out of the SRD may be the way the new Electoral Areas Services Committee (EASC) seems to be working together. It has only been a little more than five months since the election, but the deep personal divisions that were so apparent in the previous EASC are not there, at least not yet. Cortes Currents asked our two local Discovery Island Directors about this.
Mark Vonesch, Regional Director of Cortes Island, said, “I wasn’t involved in the last administration, but there is a lot of teamwork between the Rural Directors. We talk a lot. We don’t agree on everything, but we have relationships where we feel comfortable sharing our ideas and our thoughts and reflecting on each other’s ideas. Generally there’s a lot of cohesiveness and support for getting things done in our own communities.”
Continue reading How the EASC Committee is working together
In mid-November, Currents ran an article on the novel Finnish approach to homelessness, “Housing First,” and three local communities where low-cost housing had been created for those in need. We invited the new Area B Regional Director (Mark Vonesch) to comment on the housing issue generally, and on “Housing First” as a concept. Mark wasn’t able to respond in November, but agreed to an interview in early December.
The interview will be broadcast on CKTZ in two parts. The first part (airing on Monday Dec 12 at 8am) is a more general check-in with Mark; we ask him about his first few weeks on office, the three percent short-term rental tax which he successfully proposed at SRD, and his perception of the atmosphere at SRD with regard to Cortes business. We also begin to discuss the housing crisis on Cortes. In the second part (Tuesday Dec 13 at 8am) we discuss the housing issue in greater depth.
Continue reading Interview with Mark Vonesch, new Regional Director (part one)
It’s pretty common knowledge that we have a housing crisis on Cortes. In fact, there’s a “housing crisis” in many — perhaps most — popular or attractive places in North America and Europe right now. One of the factors often mentioned is AirBnB. This phenomenon (AirBnB now has global impact and qualifies as a Phenomenon!) vividly illustrates the predicament of “good for one is not necessarily good for all” — also sometimes known as “smart for one, dumb for all”.
Continue reading When the Invisible Hand Fumbles: The AIRBnB Phenomenon