There was a glimmer of hope last week that some exemptions could be made to new provincial short-term rental rules so some housing that was built and sold for that purpose could continue.
That hope is being snuffed out by City of Kelowna staff in a report that is going to council on Monday, Feb. 5.
“It originally appeared from the (provincial) legislation that there may be the ability for local government to request exemptions on a site-by-site basis, but further research has determined that this is not the case,” the report says.
There was some thought that lakefront developments like Aqua might qualify for an exemption because those properties used to be zoned for hotels and the units were sold as rentable short-term.
City staff had been asked to look into that possibility and compile a list of appropriate properties but after consulting further with the province came back with a flat no for an answer.
The province is cracking down on the proliferation of short-term rentals in cities with more than 10,000 residents by requiring units to be the principal residences of the people renting them out. The changes are intended to put more units back into the long-term rental housing pool.
In Kelowna, that means about 700 of the 1,200 units that are currently licenced for short-term rental will become illegal as of May 1. The other 500 are “grandfathered” as a secondary use but will disappear if the units are sold or licences expire.
“This leaves building owners/operators the option to pursue the exemptions based on the accommodation types listed… with the provincial government,” the report says.
Those allowable exceptions are for things like hotels, motels, time shares, lodges, student housing and guest suites in strata buildings.
In order for a municipality to apply for an exemption, it has to have a 3% or higher vacancy rate for two years.
That’s not the case in Kelowna where the latest Canada Housing and Mortgage Corporation data shows a 1.3% rental vacancy rate in 2023 and 1.2% in 2022.
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