Bought STR, followed rules

I am writing on behalf of my family, who has owned a legal, licensed and zoned short-term rental in downtown Kelowna since 2021.

We purchased our unit after staying in one during a renovation we did on our home. We loved the area and thought it would be a great investment for our family.

Over the years we have rented it out to many families like our own, during the summer months, to students in the winter, to Ukrainian refugees and currently to an owner from Waterscapes who was displaced due to flooding.

The provincial government recently denied the short-term rental exemption the City of Kelowna sought for properties that were previously zoned as short-term rentals. It is very convenient to have guaranteed government pensions and dictate to hard-working individuals, who do not have such financial protections, about how they should live their lives and plan for their retirements.

They singled out and blamed individuals, such as myself and my husband, for the housing crisis, rather than acknowledging the issue is multi-faceted and predominantly driven by decades of failed government policy.

It is typical of government to cast blame at anyone except itself, all in the name of the sacred vote. If it grants this exemption, it can still play the role of the good “person,” addressing the housing problem while simultaneously supporting small business.

We did not create population growth, demand outstripping supply and rules and regulations discouraging developers from building rental properties. We did not cause government failures on building rental units, establish rent control zones or subsidize rents or other projects. We did not create low-interest rate environments or decades of price increases in the residential housing market in major centres across Canada that would invariably spill over to other communities.

We have followed all the rules, done absolutely nothing wrong and specifically purchased a property zoned for short-term rentals that was previously used for that specific purpose for many years, well before long-term rental costs were ever discussed as an issue. We did not buy these properties and remove them from the long-term rental market, they have always been zoned for short term rentals, nor were we speculating on properties, rather, we intentionally bought properties that were approved by the government for the specific purpose in question as we were cognizant of the rules and wanted to ensure our investments would be insulated from potential new restrictions, but here we are anyways.

The City of Kelowna needs to push the provincial government harder for their municipal rights. Organizations in Kelowna and the Okanagan (Tourism Kelowna, Chamber of Commerce, Restaurant Industry) need to also push harder for these exemptions to be allowed. The tourism industry won’t survive without them.

The Property Rights Association has been pushing hard to bring these groups and individuals together to advocate for our rights and I encourage anyone reading this to learn more at propertyrightsbc.org,

Charly Leach

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