Letter to the editor
The RDEK recently approved the Short Term Rental (STR) Temporary Use Permit (TUP) Policy and is now accepting applications. It is problematic due to the following:
• The lack of long-term rental housing was not adequately addressed despite the RDEK Housing Needs Assessment (Nov/2021) recommending actions including limiting where STRs are permitted in high tourist areas and requiring owners to be on-site when a STR operates.
• To operate legally, STR owners in residential areas must now apply for a STR Temporary Use Permit (TUP). These are not required in commercial and tourist accommodation areas as they are permitted in these zones.
• There is a two-tiered STR TUP application process. If an operator complies with STR TUP Policy regulations and pays a $1,000 fee, they can apply for a Delegated TUP and staff will make a decision to approve or refuse it. If an operator does not meet the STR TUP Policy regulations, they can pay $2,000 and apply for a Non-Delegated TUP. The RDEK board then reviews the application and will approve/refuse the STR based on criteria yet to be communicated to the public.
• STR operators are required to post contact information for a person who will be available 24/7 to address issues during a STR rental. This will be posted inside the unit and only sent to properties 25m (82ft) from the STR. This notification is not far enough as noise, lighting, smoke, etc. travel much farther than 25m (82ft).
• Outdoor hot tubs, fire pits, swimming pools are permitted. While applicants must describe measures to mitigate possible guest misbehaviour, there is no provision to ensure operators take the action indicated on their application.
• The STR TUP Policy was approved and applications accepted prior to an enforcement strategy being developed. It is still unclear how non-compliance and enforcement of the policy will be dealt with effectively.
• Up to 10 persons are permitted per Delegated STR. There is no requirement to provide the number of legal bedrooms and how many beds/guests each bedroom will accommodate.
• Parking requirements are inadequate. In addition to minimum zoning and bylaw requirements, the following off-street parking spaces are required: STRs with a maximum guest occupancy of 1-4 guests must provide one space, 5-8 guests; two spaces and 9-10 guests; three spaces.
The province just passed the Short Term Rentals Accommodations Act to return units to the long-term rental market. It requires STRs be located in a principal residence plus one secondary suite or accessory dwelling unit. Unfortunately the Act only applies to communities with over 10,000 residents. This does not address the housing shortage in RDEK‘s Area F. However, municipalities under 10,000 residents can ask the province to extend the requirements to their community.
If you have concerns with the STR TUP Policy and its impact on your neighbourhood, contact all 15 RDEK board of directors at 1-888-478-7335 or https://www.rdek.bc.ca/about/board_of_directors/
Colleen Roberts, Chair
Committee for an Equitable RDEK STR Policy