West Kelowna  

Public hearing into short-term rental bylaws shows overall support, but specific concerns and questions raised

Concerns over rental bylaw

If public reaction is any indication, it appears the City of West Kelowna is on the right track when it comes to a proposed set of bylaws which would regulate, and finally make legal, short-term rentals within the city.

Residents were given a chance to speak out for or against the contemplated bylaws during a second public hearing Tuesday evening.

The second public hearing was needed after several issues raised during the first public hearing prompted significant changes to the set of bylaws.

Chief among those was the ability to have short-term rentals on a property that also includes a secondary suite or carriage house, or both.

Other changes removed bed and breakfast operators from the bylaw altogether, increasing the number of people allowed within a short-term rental, and cleaning up some of the language contained within the proposed bylaws.

Many of the handful of people who chose to call into the public hearing Tuesday applauded city council for listening to the people.

"You have heard the voice of the people," says Shirley Pacholok, a member of the Casa Loma Residents Association.

Another speaker commended council for a "reasonable and measured approach," and for making a dramatic course correction after the first public hearing.

While public sentiment was generally supportive, there were still some concerns and questions seeking clarity.

One speaker wondered if he would be able to enter the short-term pool even though his neighbourhood is not on city sewer, something which seemed to be contrary to proposed bylaws.

Planning manager Brent Magnan suggested those on septic would have to prove to the city their septic system could handle the added load.

There were also concerns about having to be present when the home was being rented. One speaker suggested when his family goes camping on weekends they rent out their home while another said he lives in his home eight months of the year.

They were told those types of site-specific questions would be resolved through the licensing process.

Staff also suggested issues such as enforcement and neighbourhood caps would be dealt with at a later date.

Michael Layland was the lone caller vehemently opposed to the short-term rental bylaws.

"I believe maintaining affordability and long-term rental availability ought to be a higher priority than increasing tourism as it relates to the proposed amended bylaw," he said.

"Specifically, I do not support the proposed amended bylaw which would allow the use of carriage houses for short-term rentals. I cannot support the continued construction of detached dwellings solely for short-term rental use in residential neighbourhoods."

City council is expected to debate the final reading and adoption of short-term rental bylaws later this month, and if adopted, the licensing process would begin shortly thereafter.

Chief Administrative Officer Paul Gipps suggested compliance enforcement would have to begin immediately after the bylaws are adopted, and expects council will be asked to review the success of the bylaws after the first year.

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