West Kelowna  

West Kelowna council approves new short-term rental regulations

New short-term rental rules

West Kelowna council gave third reading to new bylaws around short-term rentals, but not before a lengthy discussion around properties excluded from the list.

The suite of bylaw changes pertain to zoning, business licensing, ticket information, bylaw enforcement and fees and charges.

The city also opted out of the province's new short-term-rental legislation pertaining to short-term vacation rentals, something the community can do because of its high vacancy rate.

Short-term vacation rentals will remain limited to principal residences outside of the resort and tourist zones in West Kelowna.

Owners of properties with the compact single detached residential zone (RC3) designation were left off the exemption list, causing concern among some councillors.

Several property owners within that zone spoke at a Monday public hearing asking that they be included within the bylaw, which would allow short-term rentals to operate in the zone.

However, planner Chris Oliver told council during deliberations Tuesday any change would require delaying adoption of the bylaw and trigger another public hearing which would delay issuing licenses to 263 operators waiting for their licenses to be either reviewed or issued.

Those licenses need to be issued by May for the upcoming season.

"Any delay won't help deal with the current 200 plus applications. Delaying this will only create an ever bigger backlog," said Coun. Rick de Jong.

RC3 properties

While joining his council colleagues in unanimously giving the new bylaw third reading, de Jong did voice concerns about those residents within the RC3 zone and, in particular, when staff could revisit those properties.

"We have discussed a review internally," said Oliver. "In terms of capacity of the long-range planning department, we already have a number of council priorities on the backburner.

"To commit in advance of next year would be hard."

Oliver also outlined several potential impacts when considering short-term rentals within the RC3 zone.

Chief among those he says is the fact most are newer homes with a vast majority being built with legal secondary suites, they have reduced road frontages which creates challenges for on-street parking and access for fire trucks and the fact it could introduce short-term rentals to up to 494 RC3 zones properties.

Impact to vacancy rate

Coun. Jason Friesen, while saying he understands the logic around allowing secondary suites but not short-term rentals says he remains cautious about making any change.

"There are so many changes coming down that will affect our community both in density and the number of potential applications we may see," he said.

"Impacts through statutory zoning changes I am cautious on.

"These 494 that could come out of the long-term rental pool...our vacancy rate that is a healthy one could very quickly go away."

In order to get some clarity on when a review of RC3 zoning could take place council, at the request of de Jong, adopted an additional amendment asking staff to "develop a report outlining the scope required for implementation of RC3 to the short-term rental policy."

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