A vacation rental operator in Oliver is defending the practice after Town council recently discussed regulating the industry.
In correspondence to the Town, Russell Work said the perceived concerns are these properties will adversely impact the community and violate zoning bylaws, not to mention reduce the availability of long-term rental accommodation.
He disagrees, except when a person purchases a house, chooses not to live in it and rents it as an unoccupied owner property.
Work said Oliver is not Vancouver, noting his vacation rental does not benefit from year-round demand (only from April to October).
“The chance of an investor purchasing a property to operate solely as an unoccupied rental are slim to none. The demand just isn’t there.”
With regard to noise and disrupting neighbourhoods, Work said he sees no difference between these types of rentals and any others.
“I can assure you that we have never had any issues with our guests making unruly noise or disturbing the neighbourhood.”
On the contrary, Work said he has had numerous issues with tenants in long-term rentals occupying a single house on his street.
• Read more: Town of Oliver scrutinizes vacation rentals
He pointed out his compliance with the Town’s request for a $750 deposit to cover potential complaints.
“I believe this is totally unnecessary and the money should be refunded. Do you require the same of all the registered B&B (bed and breakfast) owners? What about all those people who have long-term rentals in their houses?”
Work said it is council’s job to ensure fair and equitable treatment in the local accommodation business. He also believes there is no need for the adoption of “draconian measures” to regulate vacation rentals.
Work’s other concern is being “double assessed” a sewer charge on his utility bill after the Town’s investigation to identify vacation rental and Airbnb accommodations. He called this “unilateral” action was taken because of the apparent increased load on the sewer system.
“This is blatantly unfair. And I object. The policy change has not been thought through properly.”
Work is proposing that a more transparent and equitable sewer charging system be implemented. He says the more water you use, the more you pay.
Using the mantra, “water in equals water out,” take the water meter usage for quarters 4 and quarter 1. “Few if any residents will be irrigating over these six months. All this water coming into the house will be used and flushed down the drains. Double this volume and you will have a very accurate assessment of the total water being fed into the sewer system from each dwelling for the year.”
Work said there is no need to have a reading or fixed charges; everyone knows that they pay for what they use.
Councillor Larry Schwartzenberger said Work has some interesting ideas. “I think it could be done because we’re all on water meters so the amount of water equates to the amount of sewage.”
He said the sewer bylaw states that sewer rates are charged to each dwelling unit. But he added if somebody is operating a bed and breakfast suite that isn’t considered another dwelling unit, that probably wouldn’t have an extra sewer fee attached to it.
Council passed a motion to respond to Work regarding his concerns and ideas about an alternate sewer fee system.