By Steve Hubrecht 

[email protected] 

Another month gone, and the District of Invermere is another step closer to having short-term rental (STR) regulations in place.

The district has been working on regulating the exploding number of STRs in Invermere for nearly three years. Last week, during its Tuesday, March 12 council meeting, Invermere slightly tweaked amendments to its Official Community Plan (OCP) and its zoning bylaw to allow for the planned STR regulations. At the same meeting, it adopted amendments to its ticketing bylaw, allowing fines to be levelled against those who operate STR illegally in Invermere.

Earlier this winter council had given initial readings to several new bylaw amendments to help regulate STRs. There followed a small flurry of public discussion on the topic — with about 15 to 20 STR owners or operators voicing objections about the planned regulations being too tight, and with multiple other local residents voicing objections (to council and formally and informally to the Pioneer) about planned STR regulations being too loose.

But councillors and district staff, having worked so long on the proposed regulations and having already conducted several rounds of public consultation, remained unswayed. In late February they adopted an updated business licensing bylaw. And last week, the tweaks made were minor indeed and essentially consisted of a pair of clarifications.

For nearly a year district staff and councillors have outlined a two-pronged approach — using both a business licensing bylaw and temporary use permits (TUPs) — to regulate STRs. 

The first clarification emphasizes that only one TUP or business licence will be issued to an STR owner in Invermere. Invermere chief administrative officer Andrew Young explained that this means two or more STR units can not be operated on the same property under a single TUP or business licence.

The second clarification concerned noise monitoring systems for STRs, and made clear that this means noise monitoring systems specifically on the exterior of buildings. These are required as part of getting a business licence for an STR.

“We’ve been through this a lot. It’s time to move ahead,” said Invermere councillor and deputy mayor Kayja Becker.

Young said, as he has many times in recent months, that “there is strong community support for STR regulation.”

The district will hold a public hearing about its tweaked OCP and zoning bylaw, likely in early April. It hopes to have its STR regulations in place by late April, with the rules coming into effect on May 1.