By Lyonel Doherty
The Town of Oliver is planning to make short-term rentals their business.
That was the idea on Monday when council considered amending its business licence bylaw to include provisions governing short-term vacation rentals.
A motion was passed to send the matter back to staff for additional information on how neighbouring municipalities deal with this issue. It was also suggested to check the legalities of governing short-term rentals.
Town staff did some research to determine the number of short-term type businesses in Oliver and whether they hold business licences.
Corporate Officer Diane Vaykovich said of the 25 businesses found online, 14 had no licences, while six had a licence for a bed and breakfast (providing a full suite), and five were in compliance with a B&B licence.
The Town made these businesses aware of the new terms and conditions of operating rentals in Oliver. They were also advised that sewer and recycling fees may be applicable to their businesses.
The Town heard from 13 business owners, some of whom are disputing the request from the municipality. Two operators have come into compliance with a business licence (paying the $750 deposit, which is charged to pay for bylaw enforcement if needed).
Vaykovich said two short-term rental operators suggested an additional bylaw provision where the business is an owner occupied dwelling.
“The operator suggests that the inclusion of such a provision would be fair, equitable and recognize the work of reputable hosts that supports the tourism industry in Oliver,” Vaykovich said.
This provision would exclude the $750 deposit that is required for short-term rental units that are not owner occupied.
Councillor Larry Schwartzenberger concurred, saying the deposit should not be applicable to owner-occupied vacation rentals as long as the owners stay in the “good books” with no complaints from neighbours.
Vaykovich said one owner-occupied business offers a self-contained suite with no meals provided. This business has generated some feedback relating to traffic noise.
The other owner-occupied business has a self-contained suite that provides breakfast supplies for guest use. No bylaw concerns have been noted in this case.
Vaykovich said in the City of Vancouver, operators must include their business licence number on all online listings and advertising or they may be subject to fines up to $1,000 per offence.
Chief Administrative Officer Cathy Cowan said the Town of Oliver has the same ability to fine these businesses for non-compliance.
Councillor Dave Mattes said he totally supports owner-occupied rentals.
“In terms of the other non-owner occupied, I wouldn’t support them at all to be honest with you.”
Mattes stated these short-term rentals are not much different than a two-bedroom hotel in the middle of a residential area.
Mayor Ron Hovanes said he supports secondary suites as long as they’re legal, noting there are a number of “problem houses” out there.
The mayor pointed out that the Town does not receive a lot of complaints about short-term rentals and bed and breakfast establishments.
“For the most part they’ve been run quietly and professionally.”