A major Kelowna developer is hoping the province will look into what he sees as a grey area in new provincial short-term rental rules and make changes in his favour.
Jon Friesen is CEO of Mission Group which has three towers under construction in its Aqua project on the south side of the Cook Road Boat Launch.
The first building was marketed to investors with an eye to short-term rentals but that could end May 1 when new principal residence rules take effect.
The entire Aqua project is built on land that was once zoned for tourist commercial use. That would have allowed for things like hotels, condos or condo hotels.
“The Urban Development Institute, which is an advocacy group, has been working with the City of Kelowna and the province to keep those areas for tourist use so there’s not such a dire need for hotel rooms, and so restaurants and shops and so on can thrive in the summertime when the tourist trade is on,” Friesen told iNFOnews.ca. “That is not a foregone conclusion that short-term rentals will not be allowed.”
The provincial regulations on short-term rentals do not apply to hotels, motels or ski resorts. The rules say only principal residences, or adjoining secondary suites or carriage houses, can be used as short-term rentals.
The province defines a principal residence as the place someone “lives in for a longer period during a calendar year than any other place.”
The other two Aqua towers were sold with restrictions so rentals can be no shorter than one week. That means those units appealed more to buyers who are not looking to get into the Airbnb market.
Even if the province agrees to exempt properties like Aqua, that won’t apply to other buildings that are currently covered by city zones that allow short-term rentals.
“The provincial requirement will apply even for properties currently zoned by local governments for short-term rental uses,” the Ministry of Housing said in an email to iNFOnews.ca.
Towers like The Brooklyn, which was also marketed by the Mission Group to the short-term rental buyer, can legally continue those rentals but only until May 1, when the new regulations take effect.
The principal resident rules only apply to communities with more than 10,000 residents.
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