BC Chamber has new policies for the “sharing economy”

BC’s Chamber of Commerce have passed two new policies to tackle issues in the province’s emerging sharing economy.

“The sharing economy brings exciting new business models and opportunities to British Columbians and Chambers are keen to see this new sector succeed,” said Maureen Kirkbride, the BC Chamber’s interim CEO, said in a statement released on Wednesday, June 8. “That said, we need to integrate these new models wisely to make sure we’re providing a level playing field for our existing businesses.”

The first new policy on the sharing economy, Taxation of Short Term Residential Rental Units, calls for Airbnb and similar sharing-economy operators in the accommodation sector to pay appropriate PST and Municipal and Regional Destination Tax.

“It’s important that sharing economy operators such as Airbnb pay appropriate taxes, to ensure we’re keeping things fair for our existing hotels and other tourism businesses as they try to compete with newcomers who, for now, aren’t paying tax,” Kirkbride said.

The second policy, Ridesharing – Supporting Industry Innovation, calls on the provincial government to bring forward ridesharing regulations that establish province-wide rules for safety and consumer protection. The policy also asks the BC government to evaluate and remove unnecessary red tape on existing transportation providers, such as the taxi industry.

“Given BC’s affordability challenges, ridesharing is an appealing new model to many consumers, but we need to ensure that the industry is regulated for everyone’s safety,” Kirkbride said. “And again, we need to make sure we’re providing a level playing field for the existing taxi industry – and that also means reviewing and streamlining existing regulation for that industry.”

These policies were passed at the BC Chamber Annual General Meeting & Conference in Kelowna, May 29 to 31.

Preliminary versions of these policies are available on the BC Chamber website here; please note that these may not be identical to the versions passed, due to amendments made on the policy floor.

The BC Chamber is the largest business organization in the province. It represents more than 125 Chambers of Commerce and 36,000 businesses in British Columbia.