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Letters  

STR rules won't hurt tourism

In my opinion, the short-term rental ban will have a positive impact on the tourism industry - for locals and businesses.

While the primary focus of this bill is to put long-term rentals back on the market for local populace, I believe it provides more than just that to our local economy.

Tourism supports a tourist town, that's certainly true. But oversaturation has become the norm in Kelowna, and any city needs to be a balanced ecosystem to thrive.

There are a few points to consider.

Many tourism-based business hire traveling or temporary visa workers for "colour" and I don't mean that in the racial sense. How many times do we walk into a winery or restaurant and get greeted by employees from Europe or Australia—“tourists" who come here for a work vacation, when the season is high, have their fun, and then move on? Where are they living? In short-term rentals. Those jobs could support hiring local, the market could support housing local and those supported locals could, in turn, support our local businesses.

There are hundreds of restaurants, boutiques, wineries, events venues with thousands of good jobs, and those jobs should be filled by people who want to live in our city full-time and put their wages back into the local economy, not by people who will work for a few months and then go home to spend everything they earned. At worst, those jobs should be filled by Kelowna students needing summer jobs.

Tourism in Canada should present just that, a Canadian face. And I do mean this to include all permanent residents and immigrants who intend to stay.

In addition, mitigating the availability of short-term rentals will support our tourism industry by supporting the industry built for tourism—hotels.

If a company wants to operate like a hotel, it should do just that and build a hotel. This “disease” of buying full family homes and fully set-up condos and treating them like hotels, while the lack of affordable housing drives locals out of the city, absolutely must end.

Multimillion dollar predatory real estate developers should reap what they sow. This whole smoke and mirrors act of claiming the tourism industry will be affected negatively is just that, a mirage. Rich people will still come to our beautiful lake city. If they want to rent a house, they'll do what rich people do all over the world– timeshare a year-’round vacation rental.

The only businesses that will be ruined by these new restrictions are the businesses that should be, businesses that have long looked at Kelowna as a cash cow and have milked it dry at the expense of Canadians, with no thought or care to the future.

This is but one of many needed measures to limit the power of unethical conglomerates, including those that haven't yet had a chance to sink their teeth in. The fact that they are so mad is evidence they had no good intentions aside from lining their own pockets.

Real estate development isn't a tourism industry.

Deeanna Dusyk





STR 'crackdown' concern

Open letter to B.C.’s Housing Minister Ravi Kahlon

Re: Bill 35, the Short-term Rental Accommodations Act

In May 2022, four members of my family purchased a short-term rental (unit) on the 14th floor of a strata building in downtown Kelowna.

We did our due diligence and talked to several people in law, city government, finance and real estate about this investment. We bought our business license and paid our taxes to the city of Kelowna. Our goal was to have an investment that could possibly pay for future university and others school expenses for our grandchildren.

Little did we know that our own government would destroy our goal.

We made significant financial commitments when purchasing and we acted on the good faith of our government to hold up to its commitments. Sadly, I never considered my own government would destroy our legal business plan without any consultation.

When you became the housing minster you received a mandate letter from Premier David Eby. In the mandate letter, Eby charges you with the responsibility to work towards a sustainable, clean, secure and fair economy. Did you forget about “fair”?

Also in the mandate letter, the premier stated, “We will uphold the highest standard of ethics, collaboration and good conduct in the service of the public.” Did this happen ?

The Peninsula News Review states: “This legislation (Bill 35) sets a dangerous precedent, eroding trust in the regulatory framework. This abrupt shift undermines the financial security of countless property owners.”

Fair? No. Collaborative? No. Good conduct in the service to the public? No. The highest standard of ethics? No.

When speaking about Bill 35, you stated, “A provincial enforcement team would be hired to crack down on rule breakers,” and “these rule breakers must convert units to long-term rentals or face hefty fines.”

I thought the days of crackdown enforcement teams were well behind us. You must be truly proud to bring crackdown enforcement teams (back) to politics in B.C.

Eby, in a November news conference, stated, “The Act, Bill 35, aims to rein in profit-driven mini-hotel operators.” Please provide some clarity. Does owning a quarter of a small strata unit make me a “mini-hotel operator” subject to crackdown teams?

Maybe your team should sit down and rethink how you wield your power. Try to be collaborative with all stakeholders and fair to all parties. Bill 35 is too heavy-handed and flies in the face of good governance. Do the right thing and stop the harm and hurt you are causing.

Have you even thought about grand-fathering or gradually limiting the number of multiple units?

I think not.

Al Bailey



Fears 'drug zones' in city

Re: Proposed closure of Parkway and Carmi Elementary

School District 67 has proposed the closure of two long established Penticton elementary schools— Parkway Elementary and Carmi Elementary.

The term “established” should not be overlooked, they have stood for years, not only as schools, but also as cornerstones that helped establish their neighbourhoods. The children in the neighbourhoods will now have to walk longer distances through drug and crime infested streets for their schooling.

The school district and the B.C. Ministry of Education refuse to share what their long-term plan is for these properties (I'm not betting on an art school).

Anyone who has children at these schools will sadly be directly effected. However, the legacy impact will be the destruction of these neighbourhoods as safe and healthy options for families and seniors. These properties critical components for outdoor activities and recreation, these “urban parks” provide a safe space for children, the elderly and sports clubs outside of school hours. They are the hub of the neighbourhoods and create healthy options that define a sustainable community.

The current provincial government has taken steps to legalize the use of heroin in public. The City of Penticton has taken action to put in place protections around sensitive community assets like these schools and playgrounds. Now we find out the work around is to just eliminate the protected areas, giving more free space for drug use and crime in our neighbourhoods.

Currently the only effective protections these neighbourhoods have is that they are adjacent to, or near the school grounds themselves. Police and city bylaw enforcement officers do a terrific job responding with care, and prioritize preference to where families and children gather to play. The parks, playing fields and playgrounds bring added foot traffic that deters loitering and crime.

These properties act as sanctuaries of safety for families and pet owners and, in most cases, with care for the disabled given priority in their design, they help raise the quality of life for people that would otherwise be shut in.

The traffic design is calmed and controlled, allowing pedestrians and cyclists to safely enter and leave their neighbourhoods. Cross-walks at these schools are well marked and maintained, and provide peace

of mind to parents, the disabled and elderly pedestrians.

Back to the proposal, the school district was asked what will happen to the school and grounds when the schools close? SD67's scripted answer was the ministry will find an appropriate community partner. But the school district has avoided defining what Victoria deems appropriate, and sadly our city is MIA.

I put it to my fellow (resident), let us make it clear what is appropriate for our community. Lets take the wheel and send a clear message to our representatives.

The City of Penticton has not placed any conditions on this proposal. It has final zoning say on those properties, but has not applied for stakeholder status. Currently, the Carmi property is adjacent to Interior Health facilities, a entity that has a history of making ill-thought out decisions with devastating impacts on the communities they share space with.

After witnessing how the provincial government attempted to push (a safe) injection site into Richmond General Hospital, we should be asking much deeper questions as to why we cannot get an answer on the plans for our parks and schools. Unlike Richmond, it will ask already threatened neighbourhoods to surrender their parks and recreation spaces.

School District 67 refuses to go on the record stating it has not negotiated with Interior Health for this purpose.

These properties were endowed to the province on the condition schools be provided. If that endowment is now being unilaterally terminated, the time for the city to act is now. The City of Penticton needs to lock in the current zoning on those properties until public engagement has been scheduled.

I challenge the mayor and city councillors to stand up for the working families of Penticton, and prevent the further destruction of our neighbourhoods. We have both provincial and federal elections upcoming. Let's put these plans on the ballot and force the candidates to commit to school zones or drug zones.

Please call and email your councillors and mayor, remind them they have the tools to do the right thing, and to stand up for our community. Do not turn our school zones into drug zones.

Larry Morgan, Penticton





Upset by new STR rules

Re. Poll question: Do you think the province's ban on short-term rentals will hurt tourism in B.C.? (Castanet, Feb. 24)

Absolutely, this will negatively affect Kelowna and its economy.

As an owner of a short-term rental in the Playa del Sol (resort development) I’ve had several tourists contact me asking where are they supposed to go? They will not pay $500 per night for a hotel with limited amenities and if they cannot rent my unit, they, along with many family members, will not come to Kelowna this year.

Another questionable action is the allowance of other cities, such as Revelstoke, Golden, Valemont and others to be exempt.

Kelowna is hugely dependant on tourism and there will be very few options for accommodations. Students will also be affected as many STRs are only short-term for the three summer months, then the remaining nine months are rented to students at a very fair rate. The lack of high income in the three summer months will not allow owners to rent to students at a lower rate because they will have to significantly raise rents to average out income to cover property costs.

I have worked very hard to acquire a short-term rental property like Playa, which was built as an STR (development), came furnished and can be managed by a rental pool. When I bought my property, it was purchased for short-term rentals.

The fact that we allow the government to dictate what we do with our own property in regards to renting is ridiculous. It’s a violation of our basic property rights. This has all been done in the name of our great housing shortage.

So, if I’m being told by our government it is now my responsibility as a Canadian citizen and taxpayer to help fix this problem, even if it means I may lose tens and possibly hundreds of thousands of dollars or even lose my property I worked so hard for, do I not have the right to ask one question?

How are we bringing in 500,000 immigrants into Canada when we don’t have enough housing for our current residents? I’m all for immigration when it contributes to our country’s economy and well being of our current citizens but when it causes a problem such as more people than there are homes for, and the government forces me to donate my property to help fix a problem they were too shortsighted to see coming, then that’s a problem for everyone.

Short-term rentals like mine and others in Kelowna are not causing home shortages. It doesn’t help the matter but forcing laws that prevent properties from doing what they wee intended for at the expense of hard-working, middle-class citizens. It doesn’t pass the risk-reward test, no matter how you spin it.

I’m a 43-year-old father of three and a devoted husband. I’ve worked my whole life and continue to do so as an electrician. I’ve always tried to teach my children, along with any young worker

out there, that if you work hard, keep your nose clean and keep a good attitude you can get ahead in this life.

Laws like this and many others are sending the wrong message to today’s youth. I hope people start voicing their opinions and standing up for what’s right because it’s not necessarily the people doing the wrong things who will ruin a country, it’s those who stand by and let it happen.

Zane Gold



Inclusive process needed

I am writing to express my disappointment with the handling of the housing crisis, particularly regarding the upcoming regulations on short-term rentals.

The current approach lacks balance and fails to consider the economic impact on small businesses and the tourism industry.

By imposing strict regulations without considering the impact on small businesses and tourism, we risk harming the very industries that contribute to our province's growth.

Kelowna is one of several municipalities in B.C. whose economies depend heavily on tourism. The new legislation risks Kelowna’s entire economy. The numbers are staggering, as tourism is a major driver with over two million visitors annually, $2 billion in revenue, 13,000 jobs, $440 million in direct spending on local businesses and $240 million in tax revenue.

I urge the provincial government to reconsider the regulations and engage in a more collaborative process that involves all stakeholders. Let's find a balanced solution that addresses the housing crisis while supporting our local economy, particularly in cities like Kelowna, that rely so heavily on tourism.

We need a more inclusive process that includes municipal governments, chambers of commerce, small business owners and tourism representatives. By working together, it is possible to find a well considered, inclusive solution that addresses the housing crisis while supporting our economy and preserving our tourism industry.

I hope all parties can work together to find a balanced and effective solution to the housing crisis.

Ed Graydon, Kelowna



Considers not filing taxes

Re. Suggests tax revolt (Castanet, Feb. 23)

I read the letter (calling) for a tax revolt and I am in total agreement.

Our provincial and federal governments could care less about the citizens of our country. They have shown that by how they are spending our tax dollars.

Canadians are falling behind on mortgage payments and rent, bills, food and basic necessities. What does our (federal) government do? It sends our money to another country. This is only one example of many I could name. Money laundering comes to mind when I think of what they are doing.

We have already talked about not filing our taxes this year and the letter just made our decision a lot easier. We need a revolution and what better way, and time, to start one.

S. Steadman



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