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Opinions mixed on short-term rental units in Summerland

Bylaw expected to come to council table for Dec. 13 meeting
Summerland residents have mixed views on allowing and regulating short-term vacation rentals in the community. (Black Press file photo)

Summerland residents have mixed responses to short-term rental units in the community.

At the Nov. 22, municipal council meeting, JoAnn Peachey, a planner with the development services department, presented comments received after earlier public engagement about short-term rentals. A total of 547 people participated in a survey in fall, 36 attended an open house and six provided written submissions.

According to the survey, 55 per cent of all respondents generally agree with allowing short-term rentals in the community. However, 40 per cent strongly agreed while 27 per cent strongly disagreed.

READ ALSO: LETTER: Policy needed for short-term rental vacation properties

READ ALSO: LETTER: Bylaws needed for short-term rentals

In addition, responses were split on where to allow short-term rentals and what types of dwellings should be allowed. For example, 50 per cent of respondents supported allowing short-term rentals in urban residential zones while 43 per cent were opposed.

Of those who responded to the survey, 48 per cent supported using single-family homes for short-term rentals, while 47 per cent were opposed to this use.

Placing limits on the number of people permitted in a short-term rental also generated a mix of responses. A limit of six people was suggested. This limit was supported by 35 per cent but was considered too high by 33 per cent. Another 20 per cent of respondents considered this limit too low, or suggested no limit be imposed.

However, while opinions about the rentals were mixed, more than 70 per cent were in favour of requiring a business license, a health and safety inspection to obtain a business license and a Good Neighbour Agreement to obtain a license.

Coun. Doug Holmes said regulations for short-term rentals have been a council priority since at least 2015.

He added that he would like to see a requirement to have a permanent resident onsite. Coun. Richard Barkwill also supported this suggestion.

Summerland Mayor Toni Boot echoed a concern with a lack of onsite residents. “I also have some concerns about absentee owners. I don’t really know what the answer is,” she said.

Coun. Doug Patan said the regulations need to be drafted so they do not create an underground economy of short-term rental units. “If we try to over-regulate, we’re going to push people away,” he said.

A resolution was proposed to draft a regulatory bylaw for short-term rentals, requiring an onsite permanent resident . The resolution carried with Boot and Patan opposed.

Council will give further consideration to short-term rentals at its next meeting on Dec. 13.

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John Arendt

About the Author: John Arendt

John Arendt has worked as a journalist for more than 30 years. He has a Bachelor of Applied Arts in Journalism degree from Ryerson Polytechnical Institute.
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