What do I need to know about hosting experiences in parks and recreational areas of Vancouver?
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These information pages can help you get started in learning about some of the laws and registration requirements that may apply to your Experiences on Airbnb. These pages include summaries of some of the rules that may apply to different sorts of activities, and contain links to government resources that you may find helpful.
Please understand that these information pages are not comprehensive, and are not legal advice. If you're unsure about how local laws or this information may apply to you or your Experiences, we encourage you to check with official sources or seek legal advice.
Please note that we don’t update this information in real time, so you should confirm that the laws or procedures have not changed recently.*
Reservations or permits for hosting Experiences at a beach or a park in Vancouver
You may need a reservation or a permit for certain types of Experiences and for certain places when you’re hosting Experiences.
Follow these steps to figure out whether you’ll need to get a permit or make a reservation for your Experiences:
- Step 1: Choose your location. Start by determining which level of government manages the park, beach or facility you have in mind for your Experiences. If your Experiences are at a park outside Vancouver, see our note below about BC Provincial and National parks.
- Step 2: Figure out if you’re hosting an event that requires a permit. Once you’ve found your location, ask whether you’re hosting Experiences that require a permit for that location.
- For example, Experiences involving a fitness activity or instruction (like yoga or tennis lessons) at a park or beach managed by the City of Vancouver, like Kitsilano Beach, would probably be considered an event that requires a special permit.
- Fitness: Also, please check out the article on other factors you should consider when hosting a fitness activity.
- Step 3: If you need a permit, complete the application process. Once you’ve determined that you’re hosting an event that requires a permit, you’ll need to complete the permit application process before hosting your Experiences.
- Step 4: Determine if you need to reserve your location, and complete the reservation process. If you don’t need a special event permit, you may still need to reserve your park area, beach, or facility. Determine whether your location requires a reservation and, if it does, complete the reservation process.
Step 1: Choose your Location.
I’ve chosen the park, beach, or recreational area where I want to Host my Experiences. Who do I need to talk to in that park, beach, or facility?
Many of Vancouver’s most popular parks, like Stanley Park and Kitsliano Beach, are managed by the Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation. Applicable permits or reservations should be obtained from the City if you plan to host your Experiences at a Vancouver park.
In the greater Vancouver area, Metro Vancouver manages 23 regional parks and facilities. Applicable permits or reservations in those areas can be obtained from Metro Vancouver Regional Parks if you plan to host your Experiences at a Metro Vancouver park.
In addition, BC Parks manages many provincial parks, campgrounds and facilities around the greater Vancouver area. Any applicable permits or reservations will need to be made with BC Parks if you plan to host your Experiences at a provincial park.
You’ll need to contact Parks Canada if you plan to host your Experiences in Gulf Islands National Park Reserve or the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve.
A note about Vancouver parks: The City of Vancouver is just one of many levels of government that operate parks in the area. Metro Vancouver hosts a number of regional parks in an area comprising 21 municipalities. Like the City of Vancouver, many of these municipalities also manage their own parks, beaches and facilities. In addition to the many one-of-a-kind parks and beaches in the Vancouver area, there are several must-see provincial and national parks in striking distance from Vancouver.
If you plan to host Experiences in one of these parks or beaches, we encourage you to visit the website for that particular park or beach to see whether a permit or reservation is necessary. While far from a complete list, below are links to several of these parks:
- Spanish Banks Beach (Vancouver): Information about fees, reservations, and permits
- Jericho Beach (Vancouver): Information about fees, reservations, and permits
- Lorcano Beach (Vancouver): Information about fees, reservations, and permits
- English Bay Beach (Vancouver): Information about fees, reservations, and permits
- Queen Elizabeth Park (Vancouver): Information about fees, reservations, and permits
- Vanier Park (Vancouver): Information about fees, reservations, and permits
- Crescent Beach (Surrey): Information about fees, reservations, and permits
- Horsebay Park (West Vancouver) Information about fees, reservations, and permits
- Ambleside Park (West Vancouver) Information about fees, reservations, and permits
- Lighthouse Park (West Vancouver): Information about fees, reservations, and permits
- Whytecliff Park (West Vancouver): Information about fees, reservations, and permits
- Cypress Provincial Park (Greater Vancouver): Information about fees, reservations, and special event permits
- Cultus Lake Provincial Park (Chilliwack): Information about fees, reservations, and special event permits
- Alice Lake Provincial Park (Squamish): Information about fees, reservations, and special event permits
- Gold Ears Provincial Park (Maple Ridge): Information about fees, reservations, and special event permits
- Mount Seymour Provincial Park (North Vancouver): Information about fees, reservations, and special event permits
- Blackcomb Glacier Provincial Park (Whistler): Information about fees, reservations, and special event permits
- Garibaldi Provincial Park (Brackendale): Information about fees, reservations, and special event permits
- Joffre Lakes Provincial Park (Mount Currie): Information about fees, reservations, and special event permits
- Chilliwack Provincial Park (Rosendale): Information about fees, reservations, and special event permits
- E.C. Manning Provincial Park (Manning Park): Information about fees, reservations, and special event permits
- Pacific Rim National Park Reserve (and the West Coast Trail): Information about fees, reservations, and permits, including permits for overnight camping
- Gulf Islands National Park Reserve: Information about fees, reservations, and permits, including permits for guided services and overnight camping
Step 2: Some Experiences require a permit
Whether your Experiences require a permit depends on where you plan to host—take a look at the information below to see who manages the park or beach where you’re hosting and what activities require a permit.
I. For parks managed by the Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation (“VBPR”)
The City’s website contains an online events portal with information about the requirements for different types of events held at City parks. Per that portal, a special event permit is generally not required for Experiences hosted at a park managed by the VBPR, but you should check with the Park Board Special Events Board to confirm.
For organized private recreation activities (like a boot camp, yoga class, surf lesson, or volleyball lesson), a special permit may be required to host such Experiences in a park managed by the VBPR. The VBPR also provides terms and conditions to consider when holding private recreation activities at City parks. Informal recreational activities do not appear to require a permit.
However, we encourage you to check with the VBPR to confirm park policies and any special requirements before hosting Experiences that include:
- A fitness activity or fitness instruction
- A large number of guests who will be joining your Experiences (there is no guidance on what the Department considers to be a “large”)
- Live or recorded music using amplified speakers (excluding battery-powered speakers)
- Stages, canopies, tents, bleachers, barricades,or other special set-up facilities
The Board’s website also contains a listing of special events that may require permitting.
Also, as a general policy, the VBPR requires a commercial general liability policy of $2 million CAD for any events that require a permit.
II. For beaches managed by the VBPR
If you’re hosting your Experiences at a beach managed by the VBPR, the permitting process functions the same way as for parks. See above for details.
III. For parks managed by Metro Vancouver Regional Parks
As of the date when we posted this help article, there are few resources on Metro Vancouver’s website describing when a special permit is required. You may need to check the individual municipality within Metro Vancouver where the park is located to determine the requirements and permits needed for your activity.
Per Metro Vancouver’s website, you should contact 604-432-6359 for more info if your event or activity involves any of the below:
- More than 50 people in attendance, whether as participants or spectators
- Any special requirements such as amplification, generators, tents, or equipment
- The activity is publicly advertised
- You require exclusive use of an area other than a reservable facility
- Your event occurs outside park hours
- The activity is for education or research purposes
- The activity follows an organized route
- Participants or spectators are charged a fee or minimum donation
- Your activities may have an impact on other park users or surrounding residents
- Any commercial use or the activity is for profit (including activities where financial transactions take place outside the regional park.)
In addition, Metro Vancouver may require additional permits if you plan to serve alcohol during your Experiences.
IV. For parks managed by BC Parks
A parks use permit is required if a Host is providing commercial recreation services, such as guiding, concessions, rentals, etc., for a fee on BC Parks land.
Examples provided by BC Parks include “summer or winter activities e.g. guiding hikes, guided camping, providing cross-country skiing, scuba diving instruction, guided kayak/canoe touring, big game guiding, angling guiding.” Additional fees for camping and other activities may apply in addition to the park use permit required for commercial services. See the BC Parks website for additional details.
Like the VBPR, BC Parks requires a $2 million general liability insurance policy to obtain a permit.
Step 3: Getting a special event permit
I. If you’re hosting in a park managed by the VBPR
You can start the reservation process by going to the VBPRs facility search page to create an account, and then select your park or facility. The online portal will let you check the availability of parks and park facilities for your activities.
II. If you’re hosting in a park managed by Metro Vancouver Regional Parks
As of the date when we posted this help article, there are few resources on Metro Vancouver’s website describing the permit application process or fees.
You can start this reservation process by going to Metro Vancouver’s facility search page to select your park or facility. The facility page for each park will either allow you to check availability, or it will provide the contact information for your park’s reservation office to start the reservation process.
III. If you’re hosting in a park managed by BC Parks
BC Parks uses a permit processing portal called FrontCounter BC, available through the BC Parks website. You can use that portal to start a Commercial Parks Use permit application. The requirements and eligibility are listed on the website and may depend on how the park is going to be accessed.
Example 1: Scarlett and her band plan to play a live performance for their guests in Edgewater Bar Campsite, where she and her band will use amplified microphones and instruments. Since Scarlett is playing amplified music, she’ll need a special permit from Metro Vancouver Regional Parks. To get that permit, she’ll need to get general liability insurance coverage of at least $2,000,000 and name the City an additional insured.
Example 2: Brian plans to give his guests cross-country skiing lessons at a trail managed by BC Parks. Since Brian will be hosting a commercial recreation service, he’ll need a Park Use Permit from BC Parks. He'll also need to get general liability insurance coverage for $2 million and name the Province as an additional insured. Once he has insurance, Brian can file his application and pay his $250 application fee.
Step 4: How to reserve your location if required
In general, you don’t need a reservation to host non-fitness Experiences at a Vancouver or Metro Vancouver park area or beach. You can use most of these areas on a first-come, first-served basis.
If you want exclusive use of a particular area, certainty that you’ll have the Vancouver or Metro Vancouver park area when you want it, or if you want to reserve an indoor facility, you’ll need to reserve your location.
If you need to make a reservation, plan ahead and leave yourself plenty of time to complete the reservation process; most reservations must be completed online but may also be completed in person with the appropriate park reservation office.
I. If you’re hosting a private recreation activity at a park managed by the VBPR
To make a reservation, you’ll need to go to the City’s private recreation activities page to follow the process for reserving your park area. The online application page will require you to create an account if you haven't already done so. You'll need to do a facility search to determine whether the facility is available for the type of activity requested. You'll then select the date and time based on availability.
The application process for private recreation permits is held seasonally, so Hosts should make sure they meet any deadlines necessary to have their permit processed in time for the permitting period. Deadlines occur on December 1, March 1 and August 1 of each year.
II. If you’re hosting at a park managed by Metro Vancouver Regional Parks
To make a reservation, you’ll need to go to Metro Vancouver’s search page to select your park. The search page will confirm whether your preferred date and time is available, and provide the contact information for your park’s reservation office to start the reservation process. You can also try emailing email@example.com if you need additional information.
Other licenses or permits required to host a fitness activity or provide fitness instruction
While you may need a business license to operate a business for profit in your respective municipality, you don’t need a specific license to host a fitness activity or provide fitness instruction.
That said, you can get a training or guiding certification from a reputable accredited program. In all cases, you should ensure that you have adequate insurance in case a guest is injured or there’s any property damage.
Also consider completing an adult CPR course, like the one offered by the Canadian Red Cross, in case there’s an emergency.
Things to think about before hosting a fitness activity
First and foremost, your guests' health and safety should always come first. How you handle your Experiences and listing is up to you, but we encourage you to:
- Spell out in your listing the minimum fitness level guests should have to participate in your Experiences.
- Explain what guests should expect from your fitness activity, including the duration and intensity of any cardiovascular activity and types of strength-training.
- Make sure that your guests participate in exercises that are appropriate for their level of fitness.
- Consider starting your fitness activity at a slower pace to evaluate your guests' fitness level.
- Take appropriate precautions with equipment, facilities and environmental factors.
- If medical attention is needed, direct your guest to a hospital or reputable doctor. Don’t attempt to provide physical therapy advice or attempt to make a medical diagnosis yourself unless you are qualified to do so.
- Keep your guests' health information confidential.
Example 1: Sacha is leading a boot camp in Dude Chilling Park. Her listing makes clear that guests should be properly fit and conditioned to handle a 2 hour workout that starts slowly with dynamic flexibility exercises but goes on to running, resistance bands, body weight and partner exercises. Sacha has thoroughly scouted the area for hazards and will bring an emergency first aid kit. Sacha can consider reserving a space with the Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation, or she can decide to show up early to make sure she has the space she needs. In either case, Sacha is taking steps to keep her guests safe.
Example 2: Bob, who has just completed his teacher training course, is leading an Ashtanga yoga class on Kitsilano Beach. His listing makes clear that guests should be properly fit and conditioned to handle a 1 hour workout that picks up quickly with several fast-paced sequences of linked poses. Bob has thoroughly scouted the area for hazards and will bring an emergency first aid kit. Bob is taking great steps to keep his guests safe. Because Bob is hosting a fitness activity or physical lesson, he’ll need a private recreation permit from the Board. And he’ll need to get general liability insurance coverage for at least $2,000,000 and name the City of Vancouver as an additional insured. Once he has insurance, Bob can receive his permit if it is issued.
*Airbnb is not responsible for the reliability or correctness of the information contained in any links to third party sites (including any links to legislation and regulations).
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