Municipality focuses on max capacity and long-term rentals in new bylaws

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Two new additions to the municipality’s bylaws will allow it to keep a close watch on
short-term accommodation.

An amendment is set to be added to bylaw 0030, which currently outlines the licensing and fees for all businesses operating within the municipality. The amendment clarifies the term “maximum capacity” for short-term rentals, capping occupancy to two adults (anyone over the age of 16) per room, no matter the bed configuration.

Rob Bremner, chief administrative officer at the municipality, said while they don’t have the authority to create the restriction in a bylaw by themselves, the same rule exists in the B.C. Building Act.

While Bremner said he doesn’t anticipate a crackdown on those renting rooms against the amendment, it will give the municipality a way to control units that are continually rented over capacity and may become dangerous or disruptive to neighbours.

“We want to make sure that people are aware that it already exists,” Bremner said. “We won’t be going out and counting beds, but if it was reported it will be checked and we can pull the (business) license.”

The second change will affect those looking to rezone their home to be used for short-term rentals. Homes currently zoned as RS-1A may use the entire home for nightly rental. Currently, for example, a house that is split into a main home and a suite can be used entirely for short-term rentals.

The change to the bylaw would mean homes zoned as RS-1A will be allowed to use only one (the home or the suite) as a nightly rental.

A report presented to council at the March 6 special council meeting said the change is partially designed to alleviate the staff accommodation crunch.

“The proposed amendment is intended to help maintain secondary suites (or principal dwellings) for residential use recognizing there is a need for affordable housing and staff accommodation,” the report read.

Properties which are currently zoned as RS-1A will be added to a list of specific sites that are grandfathered in and may still rent the entire home if desired. Those going through the application process in the future or applying for a business license will be required to designate which of the living areas will be used for long-term rentals.

Anyone found to be operating against the bylaw will receive a legal letter directing them to stop and may also have their business license revoked and be fined for every day they operate against zoning.

The change to the zoning bylaw will be presented at a public hearing in April. If adopted it would be effective immediately.