West Kelowna  

West Kelowna council narrowly votes to move short-term rental bylaw to public hearing

Split on short-term rentals

West Kelowna residents will get another chance to chime in on a proposed package of bylaws that, if ultimately approved, would legalize, and regulate the short-term rental industry.

Council was split on whether to give first and second reading to the bylaws and move to a public hearing, or whether it should just give first reading, and kick everything back to staff for further work.

By a 4-3 margin, council voted this week to move ahead to a public hearing. Councillors Jayson Zilkie, Stephen Johnston and Jason Friesen voted against the recommendation by staff to move forward.

The main issue is excluding property owners with secondary suites and carriage houses from utilizing any portion of the residence for short-term rentals.

The concern for those who agreed with the policy was protection of the long-term rental stock within the city.

Mayor Gord Milsom, who applauded staff for how far they have come in producing a policy in just five months, says he believes as home ownership becomes more and more difficult, the percentage of renters will far outdistance owners over the next 20 years.

"I think the intent of secondary suites was for long term rentals and I believe we should stay that way. We're going to need them as time goes by," said Milsom.

"We are going to need as much purpose built rental property as we possibly can, including secondary suites."

Milsom's main concern was lumping bed and breakfast operations in with short-term rentals. However, he backed off some when it was pointed out current B&B operators would be grandfathered under the proposed new regulations.

Coun. Friesen told his colleagues he wants to move the bylaws forward, but doesn't believe waiting a few weeks to give staff a chance to make some tweaks is too much to ask.

"I think that is the challenge for me...we do not have a policy, nor do we have an affordable housing strategy. In light of that, I just don't think it's fair today to pull (secondary suites) that out," he said.

"We've consistently said our rental pool is increasing. Vacancy in our long-term pool is increasing. To not allow that is a detriment, especially when housing costs are getting higher.

"For me, the logic around not allowing short-term rentals in suites or carriage houses is not there, the logic is unfounded in what I'm seeing, what I'm hearing and what we're saying."

A date for a public hearing has not yet been announced.

More West Kelowna News