By Steve Hubrecht
The Village of Radium Hot Springs is set to tweak its short term rentals (STR) bylaw once again.
This past summer, Radium became the first municipality in the Columbia Valley to tackle the exploding number of STRs here with an official bylaw. At the time, Radium council members cautioned the public that it would be an ongoing, evolving issue, and that the village’s approach to STRs would undoubtedly be revisited in the future.
The first tweak came in November, and another alteration was discussed at the most recent Radium council meeting, on Wednesday, Jan. 12, when acting Chief Administrative Officer, Arne Dohlen, proposed changing Radium’s STR licence application process, so that any STR licence application coming from property owners in strata buildings or communities must include a letter from the strata board outlining its approval of the STR.
“It (the application process) is taking an inordinate amount of time, and in essence is costing the village, owing to the extra staff time spent on it,” said Dohlen, adding that the proposed change would mean the process of determining whether a given strata approves STRs would fall on the property owner, and on the strata board, rather than on village staff.
He also proposed altering the STR licence fee so that it would involve an initial $200 service fee (that would cover any potential site inspections) and an annual business licence fee of $150. Such a fee structure would mean a first year cost of $350 (the $200 service fee plus the $150 business licence fee) for any would-be STR operation in Radium, and then an annual cost of $150 every year thereafter.
Councillor, Mike Grey, asked if each property unit in a given strata would need to get the letter, or whether one letter would suffice for all property units in a given strata. Dohlen replied one letter for an entire strata building or complex would be fine “as long as the responsibility is the stratas.”
Council members gave the changes first, second and third readings, with plans to reconsider and then adopt them at the next Radium council meeting. Before the changes were given readings, Grey asked staff if they envisioned any other potential changes to the STR bylaw in the near future, adding that in his opinion, it would be best to get them all over with now “because we don’t want to poke this hornet’s nest any more than we absolutely have to.”
“We knew there were going to be some growing pains,” said Radium Mayor, Clara Reinhardt.