This week, Kimberley City Council held a public hearing regarding a proposed zoning change for Mountain Spirit Resort.
The condo building is located right beside Trickle Creek Lodge at the resort base. 65 of the 68 unit owners have put forward an application to change the zoning to allow owner use of the units when they are not in the rental pool.
Currently, Mountain Spirit, Trickle Creek Lodge and the Polaris Lodge are restricted to visitor accommodation, Mayor Don McCormick said.
“All other units on the ski hill, the owners can use them as long as they are not in the rental pool. For example, an owner at North Star is required to give reasonable notice, and if the unit is not rented, they can use it.
“I think everyone is in agreement that owners using their own property is a good thing. The real issue is that a covenant on the building says they can, but the current bylaw says they can’t.”
However, McCormick says what concerns Council is having enough available rental units as Kimberley’s tourism continues to grow at a quite excellent pace.
“We do have to be careful of the availability of room nights for visitor use. All our accommodation on the hill is condos. With tourism increasing, demand for rooms is going up. In 2016 we had the highest number of sell outs since we began counting in 2007.”
However, there are plenty of other periods during the year when the accommodation rate is much lower.
McCormick says that to him, this points to the need for a different type of accommodation on the hill to compliment condo units.
“What we are missing is a good, old fashioned hotel on the ski hill,” he said. “Just a room, no kitchens or suites. If we had a hotel, most of this wouldn’t be an issue.
“It is something that is on our radar — to find a hotel developer. Whether the time is right or not remains to be seen.”
There are other aspects to this as well, he says.
“Some owners wish to live full time in their units or rent long term. The reason the covenant and bylaw were put in place was to stop that. That takes units out of the rental pool. We really don’t have that many units when you start adding them up.”
However, owners using their units short term is already happening and McCormick says that the zoning change would simply legalize something that is already occurring. That is the contention of those asking for the change.
Council has not yet made a decision on the zoning. What happened Monday evening was strictly a public hearing. City staff will now update a report and the bylaw will be up for second reading at an upcoming Council meeting.