Short-term rentals provide a number of opportunities but can also present some downsides, according to City of West Kelowna staff. (Erika Wittlieb - Pixabay)

Short-term rentals provide a number of opportunities but can also present some downsides, according to City of West Kelowna staff. (Erika Wittlieb - Pixabay)

UPDATE: City of West Kelowna to regulate short-term rentals

The decision was made during the Sept. 29 council meeting

As a growing tourist destination, the City of West Kelowna must decide what to do with short-term rentals.

Currently, the city doesn’t allow for short-term rentals. Bed and breakfasts, agri-tourism accommodations, resort apartments and resort townhouses are regulated separately under two different zoning bylaws. This means the regulation of short-term rentals within West Kelowna is on a complaint basis, with the city relying on the public to come forward with a complaint regarding an operating short-term rental before enforcement.

In July 2020 alone, staff said there are 378 short-term rental units in the city, with operators advertising on a variety of platforms including Airbnb, all despite the fact that technically, these rentals are illegal.

In a report, staff said there are a number of opportunities that short-term rentals can bring to the community, as they can create increased accommodation for tourists in the area and thus, help boost the tourism industry.

“However, there are also several challenges short term rentals can bring to a community, particularly if they are unregulated,” the report said.

“Issues such as noise and parking can negatively impact residential neighbourhoods and the conversion of long-term rentals into short-term rentals contributes to challenges with an already low rental vacancy rate.”

During the Tuesday night, Sept. 29 meeting, the council decided to move ahead with regulating short-term rentals, directing staff to create a proposed framework. The city will then seek public consultation on the recommendations once a framework is submitted to council.

Mayor Gord Milsom said he wants to allow short-term rentals into the city.

“I believe that we should regulate them. They’re there and I do recognize that short-term rentals are an important part of our vacation accommodations,” he said.

“Many people enjoy that experience but we’ve certainly heard from the public that we need to regulate it with the number of complaints we’ve had over the last two to three years.”

Coun. Carol Zanon said she knows the public would prefer it if the city continued to prohibit them.

“It’s prohibited right now and it’s going on. It’s a tremendous effort for our bylaw officers and it’s a very unrewarding one… because they’re still out there,” she said.

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Twila Amato
Video journalist, Black Press Okanagan
Email me at twila.amato@blackpress.ca
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