Revelstoke council rejected four out of six vacation rental applications following public hearings and turned down another before it even got to that stage on Tuesday.
Council chambers was overflowing with people in attendance for one of the seven public hearings on the agenda. Many waited in the hallway for more than an hour, waiting for their time to speak. Six hearings were for vacation rentals, while the fourth was for a farm application.
There were similar concerns raised for each one – worries about noise, parking, safety and disruption of the neighbourhood.
The first one up was for a vacation rental on 1780 Illecillewaet Road. The application was turned down in November when the former tenants in the house wrote a letter complaining they were evicted order to make way for a vacation home.
After council voted, the home owner Atsuko Knight said council’s vote wasn’t base on all the facts, so Mayor Mark McKee brought it back for a second public hearing and another vote. This time, only one letter came in from the public, this one in support, and the application was approved unanimously.
“Given the fact we haven’t had any opposition to this one, I think it’s an indication to council that it’s maybe an area where vacation rentals are a good fit, so I’m going to support this one,” said councillor Connie Brothers.
Next up was an application for a vacation rental at 1535 Birch Drive. This time, six neighbours came out to speak against it, and many others wrote letters of opposition as well.
They brought up concerns that are common amongst those opposed to vacation rentals – that they’ll disrupt the neighbourhood. “I think having a four bedroom vacation home would be complete inappropriate for that type of neighbourhood,” said Gilles Valade.
Council listened and turned the application down. “Full vacation homes do not belong in this neighbourhood,” said coun. Linda Nixon.
Similar concerns were brought up for an application at 1918 Aspen Crescent. In this case, neighbours said there was already several short-term rentals in the neighbourhood, including one that’s been operating illegally and causing problems. They also expressed concerns about the safety of their children.
“I am highly skeptical of the capacity of the city to enforce bylaws that might restrict inappropriate activity on the property,” said Clair Israelsson.
It was also rejected. Nixon said she initially felt Aspen Crescent was a “logical place” for vacation rentals, but realized the neighbourhood wasn’t developing that way.
“I think we need to preserve it as a neighbourhood community,” she said. “They have enough vacation rentals right now, from my perspective.”
The concerns were echoed when people stood up to oppose an application for 1706 Mackinnon Road. In this case, the proponent, James Edmonds, addressed council, saying they only intended on operating it as a vacation rental when he and his family were back in New Zealand for a month or two.
Still, neighbours were worried about the permanency of the zoning change.
“Who’s to say what happens in a year or two? They may go on to other places, and we’re stuck with this zoning,” said Kathy Hunter. “How are we guaranteed the next people are responsible?”
The application was also rejected.
The fifth application on the docket was for 1879 Corbin Place. Homeowner Philip Garneau told council the property was rented out long-term in the past, but there were issues with the tenants. “I thought a vacation rental would allow me to monitor things and have better people stay there,” he said.
Their neighbours, Marthinus and Innamarie Opperman, said the houses on that street were too close together and were cheaply built so it was easy to hear your neighbours. They were worried about noise and parking.
“People who are for a good time, not a long time, will present us with the same issues,” said another neighbour, Kris Robinson.
It was also turned down by council. “I commend the young couple for cleaning up this home and getting it ready to re-rent,” said Nixon. “This is not a place I want to see become a vacation home when these homes are located so close together.”
The final application was for 414 Moss Street. Simon Wex, who owns the home with his wife Karilyn Kempton, told council they lived in the home, and that when they rented it out, they stayed across the street. The city received four letters of support, one opposed, and two expressing concerns.
It was approved. “I’ve heard the right words that they went around and talked to their neighbourhood,” said Nixon.
Later in the council meeting, five more applications were brought forward for first and second reading. Four were approved and will now go forward for public hearings. They are at 305 Fourth St. East, 1065 McCarty Cresc., 1115 Montana Pl., and 273 Pearkes Dr.
A fifth application for a home at 1889 Jade Place, in the Thunderbirds in Columbia Park, was voted down – a rare rejection that took place before a public hearing. The concerns raised over 1879 Corbin Pl. were brought up for this home, which is in the same sub-division.