Local government wants to regulate short-term vacation rentals, but the few townspeople who care about the issue seem to like things the way they are.
“What are we trying to accomplish?” one man asked at a Q&A held during business hours last week.
Corporate Officer Diane Vaykovich said “It’s about making bylaws consistent with each other (Zoning and Business Licensing), at the moment the Zoning Bylaw does not allow Short-Term Vacation Rentals. There are short-term vacation rental properties in Oliver now that are non-conforming to the Zoning Bylaw.”
However, no complaints were made before Town staffers decided to revise the bylaw earlier this year.
Asked if there was any pressure from the Coast Hotel to regulate rental units, Vaykovich said no.
There were 12 residents at council chambers for the Q&A, all between the ages of Baby Boomer and retirement.
One man in the gallery suggested that things go smoother at rental properties when owners are not absent. And requiring a security deposit was suggested as a regulatory measure. A landlady in attendance, who said she’s dealt with good and bad tenants in the past, said she is happy the issue has been opened up.
But vacation rental owner Russell Work pressed Town planner Chris Garrish about the Town’s definition of ‘business,’ and where owners of rental units fit into that.
Work expressed faith in the private market’s ability to address issues, as he can refuse guests who have been reviewed unfavourably, and it puts him under pressure to keep his property well maintained.
But Garrish said the municipal government can’t mandate that vacation rental units are facilitated through a particular website, such as Air B&B.
Asked how the Town will address non-compliance, Garrish said there will inevitably be a cost for enforcement, but “Until we have direction from the Town we can’t know what that will look like.”