There’s an appetite on the part of some local politicians to outlaw short-term rentals in the rural areas surrounding Penticton, but not without some public consultation first.
Directors on the board of the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen voted Thursday to defer a decision on the matter until their Feb. 22 meeting and start talking to constituents and advisory planning commissions in the meantime.
“I’ve got a lot of support for not having vacation rentals,” said Riley Gettens, RDOS director for Area F (West Bench/Okanagan Lake West).
“I think there’s a concern that if the municipalities are forced (to eliminate short-term rentals), what does that mean for us now? Do we become a place where it’s easy to have vacation rentals? That changes everything.”
As of May 1, short-term rentals in all B.C. communities with populations over 10,000 will be limited to a property owner’s primary residence or secondary suite.
That will effectively end whole-house vacation rentals, detractors which of view them as noisy nuisances that take housing out of the long-term rental pool for locals who need it.
However, the new legislation does not automatically apply to communities with populations under 10,000 or those that are electoral areas of regional districts, such as the West Bench, Kaleden and Naramata. Instead, political leaders of such small communities have to opt in to the new legislation.
RDOS staff urged the board Thursday to do nothing until they’ve had a chance to complete a long-awaited vacation rental review, which was scheduled for last year but still hasn’t started, and an updated housing needs assessment.
Most directors don’t want to wait though.
“If we don’t move forward with these rules, all of the vacation rentals that are currently in Penticton, any municipality, are going to flood to the rural communities. I’m seeing it. I’m feeling it. My residents are feeling it,” said Subrina Monteith, the director for Area I (Skaha West/Kaleden/Apex).
“We need to move forward. That’s it.”
In the meantime, the RDOS will continue allowing short-term rentals in accordance with a long-established policy that simply requires owners to obtain a temporary-use permit through the RDOS board.
TUPs do not require an on-site operator and do allow whole-house rentals, in contrast to the new provincial legislation.