The City of Revelstoke hosted a short-term rental (STR) information session Tuesday, Feb. 6, at the Revelstoke Community Centre, offering residents an opportunity to learn about the city’s STR regulations and a look ahead at the regulations proposed by the province.
In October, legislation aiming to curb STRs was passed, provided municipalities with new measures to reign in STRs, in an effort to combat the ongoing housing crisis. Prior to Bill 35, the city had already created its own measures for controlling STRs locally, making for some confusing overlap.
Spearheaded by lead city planner, Paul Simon, the info session was attended by more than 100 people. It started with an overview of Revelstoke’s existing bylaws surrounding STRs.
“They’ve evolved over the last 15 years or so. And it does require some nuance to understand them, throughout the community.“
Simon explained how the existing bylaws affected STRs when they were put in place, before diving into the new provincial legislation and addressing the principal residence stipulation that the city could opt-into.
The floor was then opened to questions and comments. With more than 90 questions sent into the Slido app, which the city used to gather questions virtually, it was stated that any inquiries not covered during the meeting would be addressed at a later date.
Some asked questions about why the city chose to restrict STRs to certain areas. Simon explained the city did it by “looking at surrounding properties,” and considering “what uses of the property are, or what the future uses of the properties are, based on our Official Community Plan as well.”
One attendee requested that in the city’s economic analysis of opting into the principal residence feature, that they consider the sudden influx of prospective property owners from municipalities where it was automatically instituted into the resort municipalities.
“It is a very astute point to make,” said Simon. “It becomes really important to not support future rezoning application to allow more short-term rentals than what we already have.”
Some took the opportunity to ask more pointed questions surrounding development.
“I don’t even want to say this one,” said Simon as he read out a question from the Slido app.
“Was there corruption or collusion at play between the city and Mackenzie Village developers,” read Simon.
“No…I’ve been at the city since December 2018. And I have nothing but incredibly positive things to say about every single person that works there,” said Simon.
“I wish things were that interesting. Literally, working with a complicated legislative legal framework, and you’re just trying to do the best you can and respect taxpayer money.”
Given the controversies surrounding STRs, several in attendance took the public opportunity to comment on their support or frustration with STRs.
Some complained about bylaw infractions on behalf of illegal STRs, including public urination and disrupting the community with loud vehicles.
Some brought up their concern for the ongoing commodification of housing during a housing crisis.
Others referenced positive experiences with STRs, commenting that they offer families a more affordable option than a hotel, with room for parking and a place to cook their own meals.
Some suggested it was a way for locals to get their own piece of the tourism pie to help with the issue of affordability.
The city will be revisiting the principal residence element of Bill 35 in the fall, which will include public and economic consultation.