A poll suggests that Sicamous residents are broadly in favor of regulating short-term rentals in the community, although questions and concerns persist around the proposed regulation to that effect.
the one month survey of July 2021 was among the information on the agenda for the special council meeting on April 6, during which the mayor and councilors conducted an hour and 40-minute review of zoning by-law no. ° 1000 proposed by the district regulating short-term rentals.
The survey, conducted before the settlement was released to the public, had 173 respondents, 83% of whom were landowners. Forty-nine percent of respondents said they lived in a neighborhood with a short-term rental, while 41 percent said they had stayed there as a guest. The majority of respondents agreed with points such as: there should be a local contact available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, in the event of a problem while the owner/operator is away; owners/operators should be required to accept a “good neighbor code of conduct”; and the number of guests/rooms rented under a short-term rental is limited. Respondents were split almost evenly around the suggestion that there be a limit to the number of nights per year a short-term rental can be rented.
At its March 9 meeting, the Sicamous board received an update from district staff on the bylaw, as well as a request for comment/direction on things such as areas in which short-term rentals should be allowed.
At the April 6 council meeting, District Development Services Manager Scott Beeching asked council for comment on a number of details of the bylaw, including where in the community (zoning) short-term rentals term should and should not be allowed. Although council offered some suggestions regarding zoning and other details, they also had a number of questions.
Com. Malcolm Makeyev suggested that instead of zones determining where short-term rentals can be, the district relies on neighbors’ approval or disapproval, letting the public “regulate themselves”. Com. Colleen Anderson opposed shifting the blame to neighbors and allowing short-term rentals everywhere.
“People move into the community to raise a family,” Anderson said “Not knowing your neighbor — every week you have a new neighbor…
“Part of the reason we are going in this direction is that Sicamous needs housing. If every vacant house is Airbnb, we will never expand our community… I think condos are a good place for short-term rentals. However, I think you have to be very careful with residential areas.
Com. Ryan Airey was also not in favor of short-term rental operators being responsible for soliciting help from their neighbors. And while he would like to see “a fairly substantial reduction in Airbnbs in residential areas”, Airey acknowledged that there are people who have used parts of their homes as short-term rentals who have been good neighbors. and who “really depend on this income for their livelihood as a resident here in Sicamous.
“It’s quite difficult to write regulations that take into account all of these nuances,” Airey said. “I would like to apologize to anyone who feels targeted in this process.”
Airey and other advisers have suggested the settlement is more about addressing complaints about noise and partying in short-term rentals.
Despite the concerns raised and the adjustments suggested, on the whole, the board supported the proposed settlement. There was also support for a transition period before its implementation. Makeyev offered a year.
“Some people might rely on that income to service their mortgage and might have to make financial decisions that would take more than six months to accomplish,” Makeyev said.
After their discussion, the council received comments from members of the public who attended the meeting. One person raised concerns about the rezoning of their local short-term rentals, pointing out that such operations not only bring business to the community, but have spurred the creation of new businesses.
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