City of Kimberley staff have been working for several months on a short term rental policy/bylaw.
Mayor Don McCormick says that many other communities already have such policies, which govern Air BnB type rentals. Tofino, for example, has had one in place for almost ten years.
Kimberley hasn’t had such a policy because while short term rentals do exist in Kimberley many of them are in the ski hill or downtown area, which are zoned for short term rentals.
Still, it was decided that because STRs are a significant part of accommodation, Kimberley should develop a licensing policy for them.
That policy came to council for an update this week. This was not yet a reading of the bylaw, but updating council on feedback received, mainly from STR operators.
Planner Justin Cook said feedback identified several ‘hot topic’ issues, one being requiring signage. There were privacy concerns, and also concerns about starts which don’t allow signage. Coun. Nigel Kitto and Mayor McCormick shared those concerns.
Another concern was requiring a local responsible person, who can be contacted if there are any issues. Some operators objected, saying they thought the person responsible could operate from afar.
On this, Council seemed less willing to move. The responsible person could be anyone, not necessarily a hired property manager. It could be a friend or relative, the important thing is to have someone who could respond immediately.
There are still issues to work out around enforcement evidence, fee structures and tax collection.
While there was some comment that the process felt rushed, McCormick said that was not the case.
“We began early this year and it has moved forward incrementally. There is no effort to rush it.”
He added that he appreciated the feedback and especially appreciated that much of it came in the form of ideas on how to fix things.
“People want to sty in STRs,” he said. “Given that almost 90 per cent of our STRs are already zoned to allow them, we have had the luxury of seeing a lot of what everyone else has done. Staff has built a good framework, now we will incorporate the feedback.”
It is anticipated the bylaw could come back to Council for first reading as early as the next meeting.