The City of Revelstoke is proposing a series of changes to rules governing where bed & breakfast operations are allowed and how they are operated.
The changes make the system more permissive, allowing them in more residential zones and allowing for more guest rooms in them.
A Jan. 16 report by city Manager of Development Services Dean Strachan says that all but one of the existing 23 bed & breakfasts operating in Revelstoke are non-confirming.
The rule change will help bring them into compliance.
Key changes include:
– legally allowing bed & breakfasts in residential neighbourhoods
– currently, a maximum of four sleeping units are allowed under zoning rules, but the business licence restricts bed & breakfasts to two sleeping units. If the property provides a parking space per unit, a maximum of four units is permitted.
– requiring one parking space per sleeping unit
– the rules spell out a maximum of two parking spaces in the front yard
– a new rule will prohibit having a secondary suite in a home that operates as a bed & breakfast.
The changes are subject to a public hearing and input from the city’s advisory planning commission.
In April of 2013, the city unveiled a ‘tourist home’ plan that would permit overnight vacation rentals in select Revelstoke neighbourhoods.
That proposal fell on the wayside after changes were made in the city’s planning department later in 2013.
Current City of Revelstoke development services director Mike Thomas said news is expected in the first half of 2014.
“The issues surrounding vacation rentals are currently under review by the [development services] department with reporting to [city] council scheduled for late spring,” Thomas told the Times Review.
Councillors concerned about impact of B&B change
At their Jan. 28 regular meeting, two city councillors objected to the proposed B&B changes as presented, but were out-voted 4-2, meaning the proposal will proceed to a public hearing on Feb. 25 at 2:30 p.m. in council chambers.
Coun. Tony Scarcella felt the system as presented was unfair to hotels and motels, who pay commercial taxation rates. The bed and breakfasts will use additional city services, and there should be a way to recoup those costs, Scarcella argued.
“I think they should share the burden, not the taxpayer subsidizing the bed and breakfast,” he said.
Coun. Scarcella’s questioned the approval process for new bed and breakfasts. Will neighbours have any say when new bed and breakfasts are proposed, or is it just a matter of getting a business license? When he heard it was the latter, Scarcella said he couldn’t support that system.
Coun. Chris Johnston said he was all for speeding up city processes, but was concerned the bylaw approval process wouldn’t provide enough opportunity for public input.
“It could be a significant impact on the community,” Johnston said. “I am wondering if there should be further public process and input.”
Coun. Gary Starling said the change was overdue, but was happy with the approval process as presented. “I see a few issues in here that the public may weigh in on,” he said.
In the end, council voted to move forward with first readings of the bylaw and set the public hearing for Feb. 25. Councillors Johnston and Scarcella voted in opposition.
The bylaw will also be referred for committee input.
There was concern at council that a public hearing wouldn’t provide opportunity for understanding and input into the changes.
Why are 22 of 23 bed and breakfasts ‘non-conforming?’
How did a situation arise where almost all bed and breakfasts in Revelstoke don’t jibe with the zoning bylaw?
City of Revelstoke Director of Engineering and Development Services Mike Thomas said a “recent review” of the zoning bylaw turned up an error made in the past.
Previously, bed and breakfasts were classified and licenced as “home occupations” under the city’s zoning bylaw.
The recent review identified the fact that bed and breakfasts are defined as a separate use under the bylaw.
“As bed and breakfast is separate and defined use, these operations should not be classed as home occupation,” Thomas explained.
In fact, the bed and breakfast use is not allowed in residential zones such as R1, R1A, R2 and R2A. But because the existing operations have a business licence from the City of Revelstoke, they are considered “legally non-conforming,” Thomas said.