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Kelowna residents ‘heard loud and clear’ at public hearing on short-term rentals

City looking to remove short-term rental accommodation as a permitted secondary use from all zones
Approximaltey 200 people packed Kelowna City Council chambers to voice their concern about the city’s changes to short-term rentals. (Gary Barnes/Capital News)

After a n emotional 4.5-hour public hearing Tuesday (Nov. 21), Kelowna council deferred its decision on proposed changes to short-term rental bylaws.

The roughly 200 people in council chambers applauded several times after individuals spoke prompting Mayor Tom Dyas to remind the audience, more than once, that the behaviour wasn’t acceptable as it may intimidate others with different opinions from speaking.

After shouts of ‘yes it is’ from the crowd, Dyas called for a 10-minute break.

“This is a place of decorum and order,” Dyas said when the meeting resumed. “We understand there are lots of emotions that people have with regard to their opinions. For the ones who are getting the applause, they’re comfortable, for the ones who are not, they’re not so comfortable.”

There were no further interruptions after the mayor’s comments.

Of the 38 people who spoke 24 were against the proposed changes, nine were in favour and five asked council to defer the matter until there is more clarity from the provincial government on its short-term rental legislation.

“Whenever there are situations like this that are going to affect individuals’ pocketbooks…there is emotion,” Dyas added. “We were grateful that people came out and we had the opportunity to hear what they had to say.”

Council is considering removing short-term rental accommodation as a permitted secondary use from all zones in the city, similar to newly introduced provincial legislation which will only allow renting a main residence, basement or secondary suite on a property where the owner lives a majority of the time.

Under the city’s proposed changes, any properties with valid secondary use short-term rental accommodation business licences would be permitted to continue operating.

There are also some areas of the city that are not affected by the proposed changes including parts of McKinley Beach Village Centre, properties on Sunset Drive, St. Paul Street, Abbott St., Lakeshore Road, Leon Avenue, KLO Road and Truswell Road.

Short-term legislation is not expected to be in place until May 2024 and many speakers questioned why council was considering making its decision before more information is available from the province.

“That was one thing that was heard very loudly,” Dyas said.

Several speakers also urged council to advocate Kelowna’s uniqueness as a tourist destination to the provincial government.

Coun. Ron Cannan responded to that call in making the motion to defer the decision.

“I’d like to advocate a made-in-Kelowna policy that best meets the needs of our community. We’re trying to find that balance providing affordable housing for local residents, as well as offering alternative, affordable accommodation,” he said.

Councillors Loyal Wooldridge and Maxine DeHart recused themselves from the hearing, discussion and vote due to conflicts of interest.

Wooldridge operates a short-term rental licence, and DeHart works in the hospitality industry and owns two units on Sunset Drive.

Coun. Gord Lovegrove was the only vote against.

Staff told council there should be more information from the provincial government regarding its short-term rental legislation in the next two to three weeks.

READ MORE: Feds applaud B.C. moves to limit short-term rentals

Gary Barnes

About the Author: Gary Barnes

Recently joined Kelowna Capital News and WestK News as a multimedia journalist in January 2022. With almost 30 years of experience in news reporting and radio broadcasting...
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