City of Revelstoke wants vacation rental zones exploration

The City of Revelstoke is opening a public dialogue about the possibility of creating vacation rental zones in Revelstoke.

The City of Revelstoke is opening a public dialogue about the possibility of creating vacation rental zones in Revelstoke.

Currently, renting your residence for periods of less than 30 days is not allowed, with some exceptions such as certain strata buildings. The city actively tracks down those violating the rules and attempts to stop them, including sometimes resorting to legal action.

The city’s planning department is asking city council for permission to explore creating vacation rental areas, such as around Revelstoke Mountain Resort and along arterial roads. No exact maps or proposals are laid out in a report to be discussed at council’s Feb. 26 meeting.

The report by city planning director John Guenther suggests creating separate taxes for the properties, such as a ‘tourist accommodation’ levy. It also explores the legal framework for the change, which would include revisions to bylaws and other legal documents.

Supporting documentation shows policies from other municipalities with vacation rental bylaws, such as Canmore and Tofino.

The report references a Dec. 5, 2012 public meeting exploring rental suites and other related topics. “A number of people were interested in legalizing vacation rental options and suggested new policies and bylaws,” it states.

The Times Review attended the Dec. 5 meeting of about 75 residents and city staff. Several individuals advocated for allowing vacation rentals, arguing it would create income for residents and spur real estate development and investment. However, many others at that meeting highlighted the downside of creating vacation rentals, including increases in the cost of housing, black window syndrome and infrastructure costs associated with empty vacation homes.

At the meeting, proponents and opponents discussed the Whistler model. Proponents noted homeowners could rent their homes for profit; opponents noted Whistler is unaffordable for average families because allowing vacation rentals in residential zones turns housing into a revenue-generating business.

The specialized vacation rental zone is not a new topic; it has been discussed at city meetings and in public forums related to the Unified Development Bylaw and other recent planning processes.