Occupancy changes for rentals in Sun Peaks up for approval

Guest and parking limits included in the amendments to business bylaw, changing the game for short-term rentals in Sun Peaks.
The max number of guests allowed at Sun Peaks vacation rentals depends on the type of rental, with single-family homes approved for 16 people. Photo by Kyle James.

Owners of properties in Sun Peaks used for short-term rentals will likely be able to accommodate larger groups starting today in Sun Peaks if council approves an amendment to the business license bylaw.

The change comes after months of public consultation and meetings at Sun Peaks Mountain Resort Municipality (SPMRM) to amend the business license bylaw, which regulates short-term nightly rentals. On top of proposals for increasing the maximum occupancy limits for short-term nightly rentals, SPMRM put limits on parking and now requires rental property managers to enact a garbage disposal plan. 

Council approved amendments to the existing bylaw during a third reading at their June 6 council meeting and will bring them to a fourth reading during a special council meeting, June 15.


The maximum number of guests allowed depends on the type of rental and the number of bedrooms. Single-family homes permitted to rent both the main dwelling and the auxiliary suite are allowed to rent to up to 16 guests. Auxiliary units are capped at three renters per bedroom, condos and townhomes at two people plus two people per bedroom and studio units can have three people.

Sun Peaks Mayor Al Raine said the changes to occupancy limits are an attempt to balance the needs of tourism within the community alongside full-time residents, and increasing the maximum occupancy will allow multi-generational families to stay together while on vacation.

“Multi-generational [families] would like to come for a vacation in Sun Peaks,” Raine said. “That’s going on in ski resorts around the world, and prior to the max 16 occupants, it wasn’t always feasible for some families coming to Sun Peaks to do that.”

Parking limits were capped at five vehicles per home after council initially proposed to remove parking limits altogether. Community feedback around traffic and appearances in neighbourhoods led to the choice of only five vehicles.

Additionally, short-term nightly rental managers must implement a garbage disposal plan due to concerns about dumping outside the transfer station when it’s closed. 

The transfer station in Sun Peaks operates on seasonal hours, closing on Tuesdays and Fridays in the summer. The station’s hours are from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. the rest of the week. Guests may check out of their rentals before the station is open, and Raine explained that rental managers must handle their guests’ garbage if necessary.

“If people can’t get to the transfer station when it’s open, then the property management companies are going to have to take the garbage away,” Raine said.

Feedback solicited by the Thompson Nicola Regional District from residents about the transfer station’s hours has been varied, with some arguing the station should be open earlier and operate seven days a week year-round. However, to increase hours, the municipality would have to pay for the extra service by raising taxes, according to Raine.

Pubic feedback mixed

Council received letters of support and opposition during public consultation meetings. Concerns related to residential neighbourhoods playing host to vacationers, partying, traffic and general disruption of daily life.

Others believed the tourism nature of Sun Peaks meant the increases were welcome for the economy. Some letters approving of increasing occupancy limits questioned removing parking limits and implementing a garbage disposal plan.

One neighbourhood in particular, Lookout Ridge, included multiple homeowners who sent letters against the proposal, specifically concerned they had purchased homes zoned for residential use and may be subject to negative impacts from vacationers.

Raine said residents’ concerns are valid, and the municipality didn’t foresee the rise of AirBnB-type rentals when the official community plan was enacted over a decade ago. 

He hopes that future developments in Sun Peaks will zone neighbourhoods as residential-rental, creating different areas for different purposes.

Residents are encouraged to submit a non-binding petition against short-term nightly rentals in their neighbourhood if they have a majority of support against these rentals.


Coun. Len Hrycan said the municipality’s biggest concern with the changes would be enforcing the bylaw.

“If you look at the history of how we’ve tried to do short-term rentals, regulations is the one area where the municipality really dropped the ball,” Hrycan said. “We didn’t have a solid enforcement program.”

The municipality is introducing a monitoring software called Granicus to solve the gap in enforcement. The software scours advertisements of short-term rentals in Sun Peaks and determines if ads are above permitting limitations for guest numbers. Data is currently being transferred to the program.

The fine for breaking occupancy limits is $500 per day, according to Nicky Jonsson, director of corporate services for SPMRM.

Raine said the decision to explore increasing occupancy at short-term nightly rentals wasn’t taken lightly.

“Nothing divides the community more than short-term rentals,” Raine said. “Many people who are not permanent, year-round residents write strong letters in support. The people who fear having a party house next door are very adamant that [short-term rentals] shouldn’t be in their neighbourhood. Council is trying to strike a balancing point.”

Council will continue to monitor whether the changes need to be amended again.

Editors Note, June 15, 2023, 10:50 a.m.: this article has been updated to clarify that single-family homes with an auxiliary suite can rent to 16 people.

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