The municipality of Sun Peaks is considering changes to its short-term nightly rental policy, but some residents say proposed permitting requirements would overburden rental property owners.
Sun Peaks Mountain Resort Municipality hosted a public hearing on Monday, reviewing the proposed policy changes, and fielding questions and feedback from a number of residents and property owners.
Nicky Jonsson, director of corporate services for the municipality, said proposed policy changes aim to balance needs of rental owners and their neighbours.
“The goal of moving forward with this amendment to the short-term nightly rental policy is to balance the needs of short-term nightly rentals, property owners and users with residential neighbours by regulating noise, parking and other disturbances. We’re also prioritizing housing for residents and employees,” Jonsson said, noting this policy is specifically for single family dwellings.
Short-term rental units in the municipality of Sun Peaks are currently administered through temporary use permits, although due to older requirements, some rentals operate on properties specifically rezoned for rental use.
Jonsson said policy amendments look at increasing the maximum limit of short-term nightly rentals per street or subdivision from 20% to 25%, but there would be more stringent requirements for those looking at obtaining a temporary use permit.
Al Raine, Sun Peaks mayor, said there are about 10 single-family properties approved for short term rentals with a temporary use permit, and it’s expected there would be another 10 permitted properties if the expansion of rentals to 25% is approved.
If proposed changes are approved, new applications would require either the owner or a year-round tenant to live in the property to proactively deal with noise or parking issues.
“The hope is that if somebody is living in the unit that’s taking some responsibility for this, if there’s a party going on upstairs, that they will proactively either deal with it themselves, or contact their property manager who will come in and deal with the issue before it becomes a bylaw complaint,” Jonsson said.
Jonsson presented statistics showing there had been 28 total instances of bylaw officers attending short-term rental properties to deal with complaints, including 11 at properties with temporary use permits over the last five years.
A number of residents spoke up saying the proposed requirements were too strict given the relative infrequency of the complaints.
“It feels to me like a bit of an overreach and too strong an action to put an owner on site when we’re not actually talking about statistically that many complaints, and certainly not that many complaints that got out of hand,” one person said.
Another said an on-site long-term tenant might not have the experience to deal with disturbances from others on the property and wouldn’t be at the residence all the time due to work or other commitments.
One resident spoke up and said the recorded number of bylaws addressing complaints didn’t seem to reflect the entire situation.
He said he’s encountered a continuing problem over the last three years, where a host is running a short-term rental “as pretty much a hotel, up to 23, 25 people in it.”
“Parking concerns, noise concerns. And from what I’m gathering from tonight’s little meeting here, a lot of my complaints have not been recorded because they have not been resolved,” he said. “We’re looking for a resolve to this problem and so far we just have gotten dismissive responses from the municipality.”
At the close of the meeting, Raine said he felt council understood all sides a little better.
“We want to get it down to a situation where people who are renting short term are respecting the rules and respecting their neighbours. And unfortunately, that hasn’t been our experience to date,” Raine said.
He said he’s heard of people in the community who have considered selling their homes due to the disturbances.
“It’s a difficult issue,” he said. “We tried to hear everyone’s point of view, and I can only assure you the council will go back and it will be a serious debate as we move forward with any policy changes.”
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