With the summer tourist season in full swing, the issue of the number of short-term rental properties in Kelowna has once again come to the table.
It was April 2019, when city staff adopted the current bylaw regulations, with a plan to review them after two tourist seasons. The discussion was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and a report was eventually brought to council at their regular July 10 meeting of this year.
Multiple options were laid out in the report for council to consider, ranging from minor adjustments such as prohibiting short-term rentals from operating on properties with a rental-only subzone, to major changes such as banning them altogether.
Most of council seemed to favour a hybrid of a few of the different options, with multiple councillors raising concerns that short-term rentals are disrupting neighbours.
“We’ve had some compelling letters from people who have had their lives turned topsy-turvey, upside down by disrespectful renters,” said Coun. Mohini Singh.
Coun. Luke Stack added that he finds that most complaints are from larger home rentals, with three bedrooms or more, where it could be used as a getaway to party.
“It can be out of control for days.”
Council seemed to agree with one specific option, which was raising penalties and fines for those that do not abide by the regulations, as well as for illegally-operated rental properties.
The report said that staff believe that illegally operating short-term rentals will always exist and will require enforcement, regardless of regulations.
“I feel like we have a real crisis on our hands,” said Coun. Gord Lovegrove.
Coun. Maxine DeHart and Coun. Loyal Wooldridge both recused themselves due to a conflict of interest.
After hearing the council’s comments, staff will come back in the fall with recommendations.