West Kelowna urged to consider short-term rental limitations by housing minister

Click to play video: 'West Kelowna opts out of short-term rental rules'
West Kelowna opts out of short-term rental rules
WATCH: It says it is prepared to fight till the bitter end. A group that formed after the province introduced new legislation essentially banning short-term rentals in this province amid a housing crisis has launched a petition. The petition calls for certain amendments including exemptions for purpose-built buildings zoned to operate commercially. Klaudia Van Emmerik reports. – Feb 29, 2024

B.C.’s housing minister is urging West Kelowna council to implement some control measures over its short-term rental supply, despite a decision to opt out of incoming provincial regulations.

“I do believe that it’s in the interest of West Kelowna and everyone to have some limits on short-term rentals, because they’ll see, if they don’t, a significant amount of investment into homes into their community, which will displace people,” provincial Housing Minister Ravi Kahlon said.

“But in the end, the decision will be up to those communities that have a healthy vacancy rate.”

On Tuesday night, West Kelowna council voted to opt out of legislation as of May 1 that will limit short-term vacation rentals within tourist commercial zones.

It was one of few communities allowed to do so because it exceeded the set, or “healthy,” vacancy rate of three per cent for two years in a row. In 2022, West Kelowna had a vacancy rate of 3.4 per cent and in 2023 it was 4.2 per cent, according to planning manager Brent Magnan.

Story continues below advertisement

Magnan told West Kelowna council on Tuesday that the chance for exclusion to the rules set out last year addresses a problem that it had identified for some of its tourist commercial zoned areas.

Hundreds of suites in the Seclusion Bay, Barona Beach, the Cove, Casa Loma Resort, Boucherie Beach Cottage, Paradise Escapes, and Seclusion Bay areas have been used as vacation rentals for “20 to 30 years,” he said.

“This change in the legislation would mean that most of these folks that weren’t principal residents would not be able to rent their units anymore, and that would be significant for those folks,” Magnan said.

Magnan said that principal residency rules should still be applied to other areas of the city, ending the widespread practice of people renting out secondary properties to tourists.

Click to play video: 'Okanagan resident miffed building not exempted from B.C.’s new short-term rental rules'
Okanagan resident miffed building not exempted from B.C.’s new short-term rental rules

Meanwhile, just across the lake in Kelowna, the hundreds of units at developments like Playa del Sol, Waterscapes and the large Aqua project now under construction, are no longer able to be part of a short-term rental pool, an issue for people who purchased vacation rental properties with the specific intention to rent them out on a short-term basis.

Story continues below advertisement

Orion Rodgers, director and spokesperson of the Property Rights Association of BC, said they simply don’t agree with limits on these sorts of rentals.

“We’ve heard from so many members, thousands of people, (who don’t agree with it),” Rodgers said.

“The government needs to build more homes and not take people’s properties away.”

Rodgers said the vacancy rate thresholds are arbitrary and communities should be able to act independently.

“The province has given tools, let the municipalities utilize those tools,” he said. “I think overall the impact, the negative revenue dollars from tourism … people are going to lose their jobs.

“I’m unsure how people are going to  service their debts.”


Sponsored content