West Kelowna  

Head of bed and breakfast association says short-term rental bylaw would destroy their industry

Bylaws would kill B & B's

Lumping long-standing bed and breakfast operators in with bylaws aimed at short-term rental properties would be a death knell to the industry in West Kelowna.

That is according to the president of the BC Innkeepers Bed and Breakfast Association.

"It would destroy the future of the bed and breakfast industry in West Kelowna," says Sue Willis, who also operates A View to Remember bed and breakfast in the city.

"It would tell them that anybody looking to set up shop were not welcome."

In order to regulate what is presently an unregulated, and illegal short-term rental industry in West Kelowna, a series of bylaws are being proposed including, Willis says, eliminating bed and breakfast from current bylaws and categorizing them as short-term rentals.

Willis says the bed and breakfast industry is already regulated through city bylaws.

They require business licenses and fire inspections, there are restrictions on the number of rooms and guests allowed. Those regulations have been in place since the city was incorporated, and through the regional district before that, she says.

"What they are going to do is totally eliminate the bylaw and lump us into a bylaw called minor short-term rentals and major short-term rentals.

"They are eliminating the four rooms that bed and breakfasts have been able to enjoy and taking it down to three. They are also allowing fewer people.

"For my personal business, for me to lose a room and the ability to have extra people would be well over 33 per cent of my income."

On top of that, Willis says there is also the stigma of being labelled a short-term rental.

"Over the years, because of the lack of regulations and lack of licencing, they have had a free-for-all, and they've done so much damage to the tourism sector under that name of short-term rentals," says Willis.

"To categorize every other form of accommodation as a short-term rental is just an absolute insult and a disgrace to the bed and breakfast industry."

Willis believes the short-term rental industry does need to be regulated, that operators do need to be licenced, that the playing field needs to be level in that regard - just not at the expense of an industry that has been supporting tourism for decades.

On a positive note, Willis says she was encouraged many councillors during Tuesday night's public hearing seemed to side with the industry, asking the see short-term rental bylaws that did not include B & B's.

She adds had the industry been consulted prior to the crafting of the bylaws, they would have been able to explain their value.

"Had we been included in the original process, this would have never happened."

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