Crowsnest Pass municipal council has directed the city administration to redraft a bylaw regulating tourist homes in the area.
The amendments will see short-term rentals and tourist homes classified as discretionary use in residential districts, with tourist homes also needing to meet some additional requirements.
Robyn Moser operates an Airbnb in Bellevue, Alta. She believes the need for a permit application as part of the discretionary use designation is reasonable.
“There’s lots of tourist homes right now that are running successfully that are compliant and without complaint, that none of the neighbours — like mine — have a problem with,” Moser said.
The bylaw doesn’t affect Dawn Rigby’s bed and breakfast directly, but she says short-term rentals are essential to the area.
“Short-term rentals equate to approximately 40 per cent of our guest capacity, when already we’re short capacity,” she said.
“If you don’t have enough accommodations, the travellers will go elsewhere.”
She’s concerned legislation could become too restrictive, which will reduce the number of options available to tourists.
“We’ll be reverted back to more daytrippers, which spend substantially less in the community than somebody who’s staying one night, two nights, three nights,” Rigby said.
According to the municipality, there are between 70 and 100 short-term rentals in the Pass listed on various booking websites, but only 26 are licensed.
“There are getting to be more and more,” Coun.r Glen Girhiny said. “With that comes problems and now we have to find the solutions.”
During Tuesday’s council meeting, Mayor Blair Painter made several suggestions for the bylaw, including capping the number of short-term rentals in the community, that properties be rezoned as commercial, and that two legitimate complaints against a rental would result in the termination of its business licence.
Council members believe a bylaw is necessary to provide a balance between the area’s full-time residents and tourists.
“We all feel there is a place for it,” Girhiny said. “It’s a really good start.”
Moser wants to see deeper engagement from council with stakeholders as part of the process.
“We’re not against short-term rentals or tourist homes being regulated,” she said. “We just want it to be regulated with best practices, instead of so restrictively that it shuts them all down.”
Once the amended bylaw is brought back to council, it’s expected a public hearing on the issue will be scheduled.