Back to the drawing board for short term rental regulations in Kelowna

Dylan McCullough | March 13, 2019 in Kelowna

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“The public process in Kelowna is alive and kicking,” joked Charlie Hodge following yet another marathon public hearing at City Hall.

Last month, residents packed council chambers to voice their opinions regarding the supportive housing project on Agassiz Road.

On Tuesday evening, short term rental regulations was top priority on the agenda.

Photo Credit: NowMedia.

The public hearing saw roughly 50 homeowners speak to council, with almost all sharing concerns that the proposed regulations are too restrictive.

According to the City of Kelowna’s proposed regulations, short term rentals would not be permitted in secondary suites or carriage homes.

The regulation was drafted as a way to keep more long term rentals in the market.

However, the large majority of homeowners who spoke to council said they will never rent to long term tenants because of an “unfair” residential tenancy act.

Many speakers said the inability to eradicate unruly tenants led them to try out short term rental services like Airbnb.

Others said they prefer to rent to reliable students for eight months of the year and then use short term rentals during the busy summer tourist season.

At least two students spoke to council with concerns that the proposed regulations will hurt their renting prospects. 

The waves of similar points being made by speakers ultimately had an impact on city councillors, who admitted to being swayed.

“I honestly expected a far more balanced commentary,” said councillor Brad Sieben.

When it comes to a homeowner's principal residence, all councillors agreed that the proposed restrictions on suites and carriage homes needed to be reconsidered.

Photo Credit: NowMedia.

Both Vancouver and Victoria allow homeowners to book short term rentals in suites and carriage homes as long as it’s the owner’s principal residence.

However, Mayor Colin Basran admitted he was not fully convinced permitting short term rentals in secondary suites and carriage homes won't negatively impact Kelowna’s dismal renting situation.

Despite the public hearing running over five and a half hours, council eventually decided more work needs to be done before moving ahead with regulating short term rentals.

City staff has now been directed to prepare a text amendment that supports short term rentals in carriage homes and secondary suites that will once again be brought to a public hearing and voted on by council.

That vote is expected to happen sometime in April.

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