Chamber applauds council

The Kelowna Chamber of Commerce has applauded a decision by city council not to expand short-term rentals to secondary suites, basement suites and carriage houses.

Council voted 4-3 against expanding the program following a lengthy public hearing Tuesday night.

Chamber president Nikki Csek said, after hearing from both sides of the issue Tuesday, council voted to preserve the city's "fragile long-term rental market" to provide accessible accommodations for renters, including students and workers.

"While we support a sharing economy and a vibrant tourist market in Kelowna, we strongly support the ability of permanent residents to access an affordable housing market, and that is greatly enhanced when there are more long-term rental units on the market," said Csek.

"We heard from our members that they applauded the city for requiring proper licensing and management of short-term rentals, but that they did not necessarily support an expansion of the short-term rental program.

"While there is recognition that the provincial Residential Tenancy Act is flawed, clearly fixing those shortcomings is a provincial, not a municipal, responsibility."

She also commended council for seeing the potential pitfalls of expanding the program.

"We also appreciate that the permanent providers of year-round overnight accommodation, such as the hoteliers, can continue their staffing and financial plans already in place without market disruption."

Several hotel operators spoke out against expanding to secondary suites and carriage houses, saying it would unfairly impact their businesses.

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