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Residents go head-to-head over Revelstoke’s short-term rental regulations

Residents voiced their concerns on the proposed short-term rentals at a public hearing, Feb. 22
Many Revelstoke residents are concerned with how short-term rental companies like Airbnb will affect their neighbourhoods, or how not being able to use them will affect their livelihood. (Josh Piercey/Revelstoke Review)

Residents of Revelstoke were able to have their say on the city’s proposed short-term rental regulations, this week, and voice their opinion on the new direction council has taken on this issue.

“This decision put on council will dictate how many locals make ends meet in the future,” said Jessica Bradbury in a letter to council, received at the public hearing on Feb. 22.

Opinion among those who attended the public hearing was mixed, with six speaking against the bylaw and five in favour. Many residents wrote letters to council voicing their concerns.

The amendments made to the bylaw by staff would permit 59 properties adjacent to the Revelstoke Mountain Resort to be used as short-term rentals which they said is a measured approach, giving them the ability to review impacts on housing, enforcement challenges and impact on the character of these neighbourhoods.

One of the main concerns for the residents who were opposed to the amended bylaw was limiting opportunities to operate a vacation rental in homes or secondary suites. Multiple residents said they rely on income generated from their vacation rentals to afford to live in the community.

“Revelstoke will no longer be an inclusive place to live if it’s unaffordable for the low to middle class,” wrote Bradbury. “If you don’t allow folks to be creative in earning income to live here, they will leave.”

A major concern for citizens throughout the process of working and re-working the short-term rental bylaw is how it would affect the character of the community.

Several people stated that limiting short-term rentals to certain areas of Revelstoke, namely adjacent to the resort, would preserve the ‘small town feel’ of the community, as they said visitors in short-term rentals tend to be noisy and create parking issues. Peter Nielsen, vice president of operations at Revelstoke Mountain Resort, said that the amendments to the bylaw address neighbourhood preservation.

While some believed Revelstoke’s ‘small town feel’ is alluring to tourists wishing to visit the community and that limiting short-term rentals to certain areas would take away from overall visitor experience, and that those staying in rentals adjacent to the resort may never experience the city’s downtown core.

Residents who have had negative experiences with short-term rentals in their neighbourhood also voiced their opinions.

“Short term rentals detract from community spirit and engagement and are often a neighbourhood nuisance with speeding vehicles, vehicles blocking the street, congestion, noise, trash, ignorance of Revelstoke bylaws concerning trash and wildlife, lack of respect for neighbours and their property and the increased potential for theft,” said Elizabeth Boulton in a letter to council.

A few residents called the allegations that short-term renters in the community are disruptive and disrespectful “unfair” and “grossly exaggerated”.

In a letter to council, Jeff Brown expressed concerns over how the ongoing short-term rental issue in the community is creating division among residents and urged the council to take action.

“Maintaining the status quo of ignoring the issue and hoping it resolves itself, is clearly not working,” he said.

Tony Jeglum, a concerned citizen who also spoke at a public hearing on Oct. 27, once again stated that he doesn’t want to see any vacation rentals in homes in the city as there’s already a shortage of available long-term rentals.

In contrast, Emily Revell said: “Why should it be on the homeowners of Revelstoke to fix the long-term housing crisis that is happening not just in Revelstoke but province-wide?”

“Why are we not turning to the businesses that hire the staff, or the developers that should have created staff housing a long time ago? Instead, you are putting the burden on the people of Revelstoke, and asking them to take on all the potential risks of long-term housing.”

There was also a second public hearing concerning Zoning Amendment Bylaw No. 2318 labelled Short Term Rentals - Housekeeping. According to city staff, this amendment was meant to clean up the existing language scattered throughout the zoning bylaw to bring clarity. This would consolidate the terms hotel, motor hotel, motel, and lodge into ‘tourist accommodation’, and change all references to the term ‘vacation rental’ to ‘short term rental’.

However, Eileen Fletcher and a number of other concerned citizens said that these changes would allow hotel uses with licensed beverage facilities like bars and lounges in the C2 Zone, which is located just outside of the downtown core on Mackenzie and Connaught Avenue. Currently, hotels are not permitted in the C2 Zone.

“The addition of Hotel uses in the C2 zone will destroy this residential neighbourhood,” said Fletcher in a letter to council.

Many residents echoed Fletcher’s concerns and were adamantly opposed to allowing accommodation providers in the neighbourhood to apply for a Liquor Primary License.

Next, amendments to the Zoning Bylaw, Business License Bylaw, Fees and Charges Bylaw, as well as the municipal ticket information system Bylaw will be made to implement a regulatory framework for short-term rentals. According to city staff, once all bylaws have received third reading and there is certainty regarding their content, all four bylaws would be brought back for adoption along with a council policy to guide implementation.

READ MORE: City of Revelstoke to reworks plans for short-term rental regulations

READ MORE: Revelstoke vents about proposed vacation rental rules


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