Discontent is in the air following a summer of vacation rentals in a Salmon Arm subdivision.
A city resident wrote to city council to express her concerns stemming from a neighbouring house that ran a vacation rental during the summer of 2018.
“This is a very high-density development with small building lots and houses very close together…” she wrote. “There were multiple cars coming and going at all times constantly, averaging one day to one week stay. Some cars parked directly in front of the fire hydrant in front of our house.
“We endured loud parties at night with obscene language at times. Being in such close proximity, the smoke from various materials such as cigarettes, marijuana and cigars made it impossible to leave our door open or even sit on our patio.
“There appeared to be no regard for the privacy of our private residence adjacent or the fact that we might find the above situations intolerable.”
The resident stated it is incomprehensible that a person can operate a vacation rental without a permit or the knowledge and agreement of the neighbours.
She asked council to investigate in the hopes that some form of bylaw be put in.
About 25 rentals in the Salmon Arm area are currently listed on Airbnb, ranging from $45/night to $226.
Kevin Pearson, the city’s director of development services, explains that several municipalities have chosen to regulate vacation rentals.
“Kelowna just adopted some new zoning related bylaws and regulations this week… Revelstoke has attempted to regulate (vacation rentals) by way of zoning and so has Nelson. Some places are concerned about short-term rentals pushing out long-term rentals, and others are doing so for that reason in addition to pressure from the hotel industry. Other places choose not to interfere in the matter or that market place.”
Pearson says from his recollection the letter is the first written nuisance complaint the city has received.
He notes setting up a regulatory regime in Salmon Arm would be a substantial project and is not currently on the priority list.
Coun. Kevin Flynn said he thinks the letter writer deserves a reply, to which council agreed. He noted that one piece of good news is that vacation rentals are going to participate in the hotel tax.
He said the RCMP could be called regarding noise complaints, while Mayor Alan Harrison added that Airbnb has a reporting system regarding renters.
“I think all of us think this isn’t right for this person to go through this, but we’re stretching to know what to do about it,” said Harrison.