Council approves amendments to short term rental policy

Municipality allows renewal of temporary use permits with requirement of long-term tenant
Photo by Kyle James.

Sun Peaks Mountain Resort Municipality (SPMRM) has approved amendments to the short term rental policy, in principle, as one of the current council’s final motions.

These conversations have been ongoing for months through workshops and a public meeting. After reviewing community input and making final amendments, the new short term rental (STR) policy was approved in principle during a council meeting on Oct. 4.

The municipality permits short term nightly rentals if a property is zoned for tourist accommodation (R1-A or RS-1A) or if the owners have a temporary use permit (TUP).

There are currently 45 short term rental properties on residential streets — 35 properties zoned R1-A or RS-1A and 10 properties with a TUP. However, 11 of those properties currently do not have a business licence, meaning they are not actively renting short-term.

The push to adapt the policy came from the fact that some TUPs were expiring, but could only be renewed once. Council determined the best option is to allow TUPs to be renewed again through a new application with additional conditions.

An important point is that the updated Official Community Plan (OCP), which is in the final stages of being adopted, suggests zoning future subdivisions closer to the village as tourist accommodation and other subdivisions further out as strictly residential use. Once several short-term rental subdivisions are developed, the municipality will no longer allow new TUPs in existing subdivisions.

For now, the amended STR policy will increase the limit of short term rentals per residential street or subdivision from 20 per cent to 25 per cent. 

Additionally, renting with a TUP will require all new applications to have a long-term tenant living on the property as an on-site representative. The idea is that the tenant will be able to address issues such as noise and parking, but they do not have to be the property manager. 

This requirement does not apply to R-1A and RS-1A zoned properties. However, all STR properties still require a 24-hour on-mountain contact, who can be the owner, tenant or a property management company. Long-term tenants do not have to always be available as long as there is an on-mountain contact for visitors to call.

Staff recommended testing this policy for two years, while also increasing enforcement of noise by prohibiting outdoor hot tub use after 10 p.m. and changing the night time noise period to 10 p.m. throughout the municipality except in the village core. 

The original STR policy said council could approve additional rentals over the street limit if they were considered to be a “cluster.” Council will not be continuing with this rule, however may give priority to applications for properties within a cluster.

Initially the municipality was also considering forcing TUP properties to be available for rent at least 60 per cent of the year, but removed this requirement because it would be difficult and time consuming to enforce.

Moving forward, council will consider moratoriums of STRs in specific areas. There is currently a moratorium on nightly rentals for Burfield Dr. to allow for employee rental options, but council could consider removing the moratorium once more non-market housing is built in the community.

The municipality has also received numerous letters from residents on Lookout Ridge Dr. who would like a moratorium put in place for the street, which currently has 20 per cent of properties available for STRs. Council said they will continue to review.

With the amended policy approved, SPMRM will now have to adapt other existing bylaws to reflect the changes.

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