Private vacation rentals are on the District of Sicamous’ radar.
Sicamous Mayor Terry Rysz said the Airbnb business model, that has home owners offering nightly vacation rentals with limited or no government oversight, is a concern for District of Sicamous council as it is for councils of other communities.
“We’d like to see something so everybody is on the same playing field,” said Rysz. “But we haven’t really pulled the trigger on any sort of resolution that will resolve the problem.”
Sicamous currently has 37 listings with Airbnb. The accommodations range from individual suites to complete houses to a privately-owned houseboat, with nightly rentals running from $60 to $1,495 per night.
The City of Revelstoke has made repeated zoning bylaw amendments to address private vacation rentals there. The city now requires prospective private vacation rental properties to be rezoned, if necessary, to a Vacation Rental subzone. Applicants must show proposed rental properties meet the city’s layout and parking requirements. The application involves a non-refundable payment to the city of $1,5000. If the re-zoning is approved, rental property owners are required to get a business licence for $200 annually plus $5 per bedroom.
Revelstoke limits individual suite/home rentals to 120 days per year, and limits the total number of legal private vacation rentals within the city to 125 bedrooms with a maximum occupancy of 250 people.
There’s currently 146 rental options listed on Airbnb for Revelstoke.
“Revelstoke is dealing with it… and I think they’ve got a fairly interesting model, so we’ll see how that plays out and we may just adopt as we move forward,” said Rysz.
The Sicamous mayor is also waiting to see what will happen if and when the province OK’s Sicamous to collect a Municipal and District Regional Tax, or “hotel tax” as it’s more commonly known, to support marketing of the community.
Revelstoke collects an MRDT.
“It’s not really fair when you take a look at the whole scheme of it, to have a portion of your beds being rented out and the marketing that’s going out benefitting everyone in the jurisdiction and only a portion of them are actually responsible for the income that’s coming in,” said Rysz.
According to the Ministry of Finance, however, B.C. accommodation providers who offer fewer than four units are exempt from the PST and the hotel tax. But B.C. municipalities have been pushing the province to start levying the tax on vacation rentals.
“I know of a few (local rentals) and they’re really well done, but if they’re going to play the game and they’re going to get revenue off of it, then they have to be accountable to all the implications just like everyone else that’s in that game,” said Rysz. “That’s how I see it. And also, somewhere down the line, if we have to address it by building our own bylaw we will. And that’s to make it fair for all.”