Letter: Revelstoke council needs to re-visit vacation rental policy

City of Revelstoke needs to develop plan and policy to oversee, police and regulate vacation rentals, writes Robin Brooks-Hill.

Editor,

I find it egregious the City of Revelstoke appears to have no plan or policy of how the city will oversee, police or regulate vacation rentals.

I urge council to consider, before approving any further vacation rentals, the following issues:

1) There are no designated areas of the city where vacation rentals may or may not be in residential areas.

2)  There are no guidelines regarding the density of vacation rentals in any given residential area.

3) There is no formalized procedure for rescinding a vacation rental licence. I don’t believe any licence should be issued without a clear process in place for the withdrawal of the licence.

The present approach of the city appears to be to review each application without any consideration of appropriateness for the residential area in question, density, or proximity to other types of housing such as B&B’s or secondary suites. The result is a higgledy-piggledy mish-mash that could lead to a serious decline in the given neighbourhood.

Recent experience in Arrow Heights with both legal and illegal vacation rentals on Cashato Crescent and McCarty Crescent has demonstrated the city’s lack of preparedness and inability to deal with issues which arise with vacation rentals.

Issues arising in the evening (which is when they tend to arise) leave concerned neighbours with no options. A call to fire department (multiple trucks parked blocking access to a fire hydrant) resulted in the direction to call the police. The police referred callers on to the Commissionaires. The Commissionaires are not available at night. Follow-up in the morning by the latter came after the parties in question had moved on. The proverbial horse was out of the barn!

Short of a 9-1-1 call (which would not be appropriate) nothing is done until the next day. Neighbours are left with no number to call the house owner and a feeling their residential neighbourhood is deteriorating.

Inquiries to the city lead to the information that the city’s response is only “complaint driven,” with no process for compiling or cataloguing complaints. There appears to be no policy and procedure established to attend to matters regarding vacation rentals.

Is giving carte blanch approval to vacation rental applications the best way to address the deficiency of short-term rental accommodation in Revelstoke? I don’t think so!

To my knowledge, only councillor Aaron Orlando has raised these issues when applications for vacation rentals have appeared before council. Nothing has been instituted to address these issues.

I strongly suggest council place a moratorium on future vacation rental applications until the city has fully worked out a policy and procedure regarding the location, density, and supervision of vacation rentals.

Respectfully submitted,

Robin Brooks-Hill

Revelstoke