A group of concerned and frustrated West Kelowna residents have launched a petition asking that the city keep short-term rentals illegal, as talks of licensing these spaces continue to garner traction.
“Some residents have been going door to door in different neighbourhoods talking to people about this problem,” the group wrote in an email to West K News.
“They have had an overwhelming response in support of keeping short-term rentals prohibited. Many people have been having this same experience, complained to city officials and nothing changes.”
Under the City of West Kelowna’s bylaw, vacation rentals — “other than bed and breakfast uses, agri-tourism accommodations, and the use of resort apartments and resort townhouses” — are prohibited in every zone.
“Mayor and council of West Kelowna are considering licensing these short-term rentals because bylaw enforcement does not have the manpower to monitor these homes,” the group wrote.
Mark Koch, the director of development services at the City of West Kelowna, oversees bylaw services and said the department understands the group’s frustration.
“We get that, and we look forward to having that discussion at a policy level as to where council wants to go with it.”
He noted that while resources are limited, bylaw services are doing what they can to address the complaints.
“I can certainly say that compliance issues as they relate to short-term rentals within the community have very much been addressed. Tickets have been issued in a number of instances,” he said.
City of West Kelowna councillor Rick de Jong said he receives multiple emails a week from concerned residents, and that he supports the group’s cause and efforts.
“Having had a short-term rental for a period of time beside my residence, I can sympathize and understand their concerns…,” said de Jong. “They can be problematic if the owner of the residence isn’t present to maintain order in the household.”
He applauds residents who are taking matters into their own hands.
“They’re getting there out there and having their voices heard, and running a petition. That takes a lot of work, energy, dedication and commitment. I recognize that,” he said.
A decision on the fate of short-term rentals will be made in late August, and while he isn’t sure where council as a whole stands on the issue, de Jong said he’d like to see property owners present during rentals if these operations are legalized.
“Whatever direction council comes up with, I certainly as a member of the table will be encouraging some sort of moderation — where homeownership and responsibility of that homeowner to mitigate those impacts in the local neighbourhood is going to be required,” he said.
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