Vernon’s chamber of commerce says new short-term rental legislation could pose serious risks to resorts that drive North Okanagan tourism.
“We are urging the provincial government to reassess the local vacation resort communities in our area that have not been deemed exempt,” says Greater Vernon Chamber of Commerce president Kirndeep Nahal.
Set to take effect in May, the legislation is aimed at returning short-term rentals to the long-term market.
While Big White and Silver Star have been exempted from the legislation, others like Predator Ridge and Outback Lakeside Resort have not.
“The resort communities impacted are not close to transit and are likely not the affordable living accommodations the legislation is hoping to target,” says Nahal. “These are communities built upon short-term rental models to drive tourism, which is a massive economic driver for the Okanagan, and would be threatened.”
Claus Larsen, director of accommodation at Predator Ridge, says more than 300 people could be at risk of losing their jobs if the golf resort must meet the new legislation.
“We’re no different than Big White or Silver Star. We’re outside of town, and we’re zoned for short-term rentals. The consequences if we do not get exempt would be dire,” says Larsen.
Short-term rental accommodations account for more than $3 million in revenue per year at Predator.
Long-term rentals such as The District at the resort start at $4,500 per month.
“That’s the type of accommodation we have at Predator Ridge. Our resort is full of million-dollar homes and condos,” says Larsen. “That doesn’t create affordable houses. If we’re not exempted, we’re going to stand empty.”
The chamber has written to local MLA Harwinder Sandhu and recommends the province consult with local stakeholders to further understand unintended impacts.
It also recommends giving municipalities the right to determine and apply for exempted areas through commercial tourism zoning, and a reassessment of the Residential Tenancy Act to entice property owners to lease their homes to long-term tenants.
“We appreciate that the provincial government has recognized and is taking action to address the issue of affordable and attainable housing in our province. We understand the legislation is meant to increase the availability of long-term housing options,” says Nahal.
“This intended objective is undeniably important for families to be able to sustain a basic quality of life in our province and reassure employers that they will be able to attract skilled workers to their regions. However, there are potentially negative impacts to the community that need to be addressed.”