Revelstoke council rejects two vacation rentals

Neighbours come out in full force against vacation rentals downtown and in Columbia Park.

Two vacation rental applications were rejected after neighbours came out in full force against them at their respective public hearings last week.

The two applications in question were for homes at 424 Third St. East and 2101 Mary Hansen Place. The Third Street application was up first.

Bryce Dawbin, who owns the home with his partner Ashley Borlase, said they bought it with the intention of renting it long-term, but they submitted their application so they had the option for vacation rentals in the future. He told council they invested time and money renovating the house, but that seeing the neighbours’ opposition was “stressful.”

“It was no intention of ours to upset or disrespect any of you,” Dawbin said. “We hope the Revelstoke council accepts our application as a positive progression for our community.”

The neighbours weren’t having it. While they complimented the young couple on the renovations, they raised concerns about the impact a vacation rental could have on the neighbourhood.

“We have enjoyed the fact our neighbourhood has been consistent over that period of time with people who own a home, live in a home and partake in the neighbourhood we have,” said Mort Rafuse. “It’s such a change to our neighbourhood. This is not something we want in the neighbourhood as a vacation rental.”

Concerns were also raised about parking. The neighbours said they all have to park on the street, and they work together to make sure everyone has space. They wondered how vacationers would impact that, despite the fact the application indicates parking would be at the rear of the home.

“The parking is somewhat stressful for us all but we all mitigate it by talking to our neighbours,” said Jill Zacharias. “This is going to have a huge impact on our lives and we appeal to you to consider that long term impact.”

Council voted with the neighbours. “It’s nice to see the quality of the work that’s been done on the house, but my first reaction seeing it is the lot is too small, it’s too close to the neighbours and I do have some concerns about it,” said Mayor Mark McKee. “I don’t feel this lot and this house is configured properly to house a vacation rental.”

For the Mary Hansen Place application, the home owner John Warren said turning their house into a vacation rental was a short-term measure because he and his wife were forced to move to Vancouver. They wanted to manage the home as a vacation rental until they retired and came back to Revelstoke in five years.

“It’s not a great home for long-term rentals. The people that can afford long-term rentals in this house don’t rent,” said Warren. “I’m quite worried about who I’d be renting to.”

The neighbours expressed concerns about the impact a vacation rental would have on the neighbourhood. All four residents on the street wrote letters in opposition of the application.

“We buy into a neighbourhood when we build,” said Fred Olsson. “This re-zoning would be a lifelong death sentence for this neighbourhood. It’s just not appropriate.”

The application was turned down by council.

“I feel there’s too many variables at this point, partly because we still have lots to learn about zoning amendments for vacation rentals, but also because the community has spoken,” said coun. Gary Sulz.

One thing that has emerged from the numerous public hearings is that the city needs to continue refining its vacation rental policies.

“I’m wondering whether or not we as a city need to step back and take a look at where we’re at right now,” said councillor Connie Brothers.

The city’s department of development services is preparing another report on vacation rentals that is set to go to council in January. Dean Strachan, the city’s manager of development services, said the report will look at the application process, as well as splitting vacation rentals into two categories — whole homes and secondary suites.

Meanwhile, five more vacation rental applications for homes at 1780 Illecillewaet Rd., 1535 Birch Dr., 1918 Aspen Cresc., 1706 McKinnon Rd., and 414 Moss St. are scheduled for public hearings this Tuesday.

Strachan said applications will keep going to council until the cap of 125 rental rooms is reached, at which point, council will be asked how they want to proceed.

The city is also cracking down on illegal rentals that haven’t applied. Strachan said 12 illegal vacation rentals opted to convert back to long-term rental housing instead of applying.