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Business licensing key to enforcement around short-term rentals in Sicamous

Applicants required to have local contact person who can respond to complaints
The District of Sicamous’ Planning and Development Committee recently had an opportunity to hear about and comment on proposed business licensing requirements for short-term rentals. (File photo)

Sicamous staff aim to keep short-term rentals in check through business licensing.

The district’s Planning and Development Committee went over proposed regulation and business licensing requirements related to short-term rentals at its Jan. 4 meeting. Development services manager Scott Beeching said the district was going to try and use the business licence bylaw as the main way to enforce short-term rentals.

Among a package of documents provided to the committee were proposed requirements and check-lists for licence applicants. Among the suggested requirements were the provision of fire safety and off-street parking plans, a list of booking platforms that will be used to advertise the rental and, for stratas, evidence the rental business is permitted by a bylaw enacted under the BC Strata Property Act. Applicants are also required to provide contact information for someone local who can respond to complaints – by phone within 15 minutes and in person within an hour.

Beeching said a goal of the business licence is to make the rental owner responsible for any issues that should arise, with district bylaw enforcement being used in the “worst-case scenario.”

Regarding booking platforms, licensees must include the following information in posts/advertisements about their rentals: the business licence number, the number of bedrooms, the number of off-street parking spaces and maximum guest occupancy. Licensees would be required to “explicitly specify the maximum number of vehicles that paying guests are permitted to bring.”

Read more: Sicamous seeks public input on Airbnb-type short-term rentals, housing needs

Read more: Sicamous council gives proposed zoning bylaw third reading for second time

Beeching said applicants wouldn’t have to be set up as a business entity. He also said it may also be possible for a renter to apply for a business licence to operate a short-term rental.

“If you’re the primary renter of a property and you want to operate a bed and breakfast or short-term rental, you can get permission from the property owner to do it,” said Beeching.

Regarding stratas, committee chair Gord Bushell suggested letters of support be provided noting specific units approved for short-term rentals. He said this puts the onus on stratas to know what’s going on in their own building.

Staff is suggesting a list of licensed short-term rentals and related information, including contacts, be set up online for the public to access.

Beeching said the district has about two dozen applications for short-term rentals currently on hold until the regulations contained in Zoning Bylaw 1000 are approved. The bylaw received third reading at the last council meeting and Beeching said staff would be looking to move it to adoption at council’s Jan. 11 meeting.
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