This map shows Airbnb rentals available in Sicamous on March 25, 2022. The District of Sicamous is working on a bylaw to regulate short-term rentals. (airbnb image)

This map shows Airbnb rentals available in Sicamous on March 25, 2022. The District of Sicamous is working on a bylaw to regulate short-term rentals. (airbnb image)

Sicamous council supports further discussion of short-term rentals regulation

Councillor suggests proposed bylaw could still use tweaks

Sicamous council wants more time to deliberate over the district’s proposed short-term rentals bylaw.

At its March 23 meeting, council supported a resolution to consider the proposed regulations for short-term rentals at the April 6 committee of the whole meeting. Before voting in favour, though, councillors shared their thoughts on the bylaw and the process behind it so far.

Coun. Gord Bushell requested the additional time to go over the bylaw. He said he’d received a lot of questions about it, including from a lot of people who have short-term rentals but who don’t live in the community and missed out on opportunities to provide input last year.

“We’re the ones that are going to have to – if anybody is running again for council… take the brunt of it this fall because there’s a lot of people that are a little bit upset we’re going to put this in,” said Bushell. “I feel we have to put it in, I do, I think it’s a great thing for the community, I think we need short-term rentals, but I also think it has to be regulated.”

Coun. Jeff Mallmes expressed concern around delaying the bylaw.

“If we keep delaying this it’s never going to move forward…,” said Mallmes. “The people that are running a legitimate operation have somebody that shows up there to deal with the clientele…, they have somebody that does whatever work that needs to be done so the district staff doesn’t have to go out there. And they come and get a business licence. It’s pretty simple.”

Coun. Malcolm Makayev said staff put a lot of work into the bylaw, having looked at similar bylaws in neighbouring communities and applied a portion of best practices from each to make one that fits Sicamous.

“I think we should move forward. I think the information has been disseminated to the public and they’ve had a lot of chance for input,” said Makayev.

Read more: Sicamous pursuing regulation of short-term rentals

Read more: Sicamous council raises concerns around short-term rentals and proposed bylaw

Bushell was appreciative of the work done by staff but suggested there were still little things that could be tweaked.

District development services manager Scott Beeching said district staff have heard from 24 individuals regarding the proposed bylaw and plan to meet with one of the stratas. He also said the district has received five business licence applications for short-term rentals.

Mallmes stressed the proposed regulation is to bring about a level playing field between private short-term rentals and local hotels/motels paying the municipal regional district tax (MRDT) for guest stays.

The MRDT applies to all accommodation sales. It is collected by the province and returned to the district, to be used on approved destination marketing, benefiting all accommodation providers.

“Somewhere we have to level the playing field and I’m sorry if the guy with the Airbnb doesn’t understand that,” said Mallmes.

District chief financial officer Kelly Bennett noted once the district starts regulating short-term rentals, it would be educating short-term rental operators about registering for the MRDT.

“I just want to be clear, I pushed for this seven years ago, said Bushell. “And I think we have to do it… I just think we need to get it right, not have to go and amend it within the first year.”


lachlan@saobserver.net
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