West Kelowna  

Short-term rentals on radar

West Kelowna council will tackle the growing number of illegal short-term rentals in the city next spring.

Council made the decision following an impassioned plea by Ranch Road residents Richard and Debby Gill.

They said bylaw officers need more tools, while city bylaws around short-term rentals need more teeth to curb what they called the growing number of "party houses" in the city.

Richard Gill said a $500 ticket is not a deterrent, but just the cost of doing business for some absentee-owners who charge up to $2,000 a night for a home continually occupied by eight to 16 people intent on partying.

He said the city opened 62 complaint files in 2018, a believes most of those complaints centre around noise, parking and garbage.

He suggested raising fines to $1,000 immediately and lobbying the province to increase fines to as high as $10,000 for repeat offenders.

While council didn't jump on the suggestions, they did have some sympathy for those who live near party houses.

"This council need to discuss Airbnb's. Do we want them or do we not want them?" asked Coun. Rick de Jong.

"If not, what are we going to do about them, because they exist in an abundance."

Coun. Jason Zilkie, while believing a discussion around the table is needed, doesn't believe all short-term rentals are bad.

"I don't think eliminating it is realistic, but stopping party houses is needed," he said.

Council voted unanimously to endorse de Jong's motion asking staff to bring back a report on short-term rentals within the next six months.

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