Steve Hubrecht

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Last week Invermere council gave initial readings to several proposed amendments to its official community plan (OCP): one that would officially adopt the new Athalmer Neighbourhood Plan; and another that would allow the District of Invermere to use temporary use permits (TUPs).

A public hearing on these amendments will be held later in September.

The amendments are not the much-talked about short-term rental (STR) bylaw that Invermere has been working on throughout this year, and which it had at one point hoped to have in place prior to this fall’s municipal election. The TUPs amendment does, however, tie into the STR bylaw, as TUPs are one half of the two-pronged approach that district staff have recommended the municipality use to regulate the exploding number of STRs here. (Business licensing is the other ‘prong’).  Invermere needs to officially amend its OCP to allow for TUPs generally before it can implement a bylaw that uses them to manage STRs.

The initial readings were given during Invermere’s Tuesday, Aug. 30 council meeting. Invermere chief administrative officer Andrew Young made this connection explicit at the meeting, saying that with the TUP amendment, “the intent is to support STR regulation.”

Young emphasized that TUPs and business licensing would be “a belt and suspender” method of dealing with STRs. “In some cases, such as strata developments, the business licensing approach will be the only effective way, but in other cases we believe TUPs would be more appropriate,” he said.

“We had a lot of discussion on this already, I’m comfortable going to the next step,” said councillor Greg Anderson.

“Who knows, we may end up being a step ahead of other communities in having TUPS in our toolbox,” said Invermere mayor Al Miller.

Councillor Gerry Taft cautioned that some local residents may read too much into the TUP amendment, saying some of the wording “sounds like this is the bylaw about STRs…this is not the STR bylaw. We could have a whole bunch of people show up to the public hearing thinking it is about an STR bylaw, and they will be disappointed.”

Invermere planner Rory Hromadnik spoke to the Ahtlamer Neighbourhood Plan, which includes plans for the Lake Windermere Resorts (LWR lands) purchased nearly four years ago by the district for $5 million. Several draft concepts of the plan for this large waterfront parcel have been presented during public feedback sessions in the ensuing years, and local residents have consistently favoured the more pared-down, least-developed options.

The latest option features improved amenities and parking at the Athalmer boat launch, a large lakeside park area, and a small area (at least small relative to other concepts put forward) designated for potential future resort development, tucked into the property’s northwestern corner. This most recent iteration of the vision for the LWR lands was the subject of a public open house earlier this summer. 

Hromadnik mentioned that there had been 50 people attend that open house and “we didn’t really hear any suggested changes (from the public).”

Although council agreed unanimously to hold a public hearing on the OCP amendments later on in September, they did not set an exact date, leaving that up to district staff.