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City of Rossland adopts short-term rental bylaw

Moratorium lifted on short-term rental units as council tries to respond to housing needs
Rossland council voted to adopt the controversial short-term rental bylaw and cease moratorium on applications.

The short-term residential rental Bylaw 2828 was adopted at the Rossland council meeting Monday, April 15, bringing closure, at least for the moment, to a controversial and ongoing issue in the downtown core.

“We’ve been around this one for the better part of a year, and we’ve had lots of vigorous discussions at the table,” said Rossland Mayor Andy Morel. “This has been a heck of a process but we have lots of review opportunities, statistical analysis is being done by our staff over the next month and year, and we will be in a strong position to look at how this roll out is going and decide what we may wish to do in the future.”

On April 2, council provided a third reading to Bylaw No. 2828 as amended. The amendments removed the three-month allowance for proprietors to be absent while running their STRs, and added a clause that only one residential STR be permitted per lot.

The new bylaw in Old Town Rossland requires new short-term rentals be restricted to primary residences only, and be prohibited in secondary suites, detached secondary suites or carriage houses, which are to be reserved for long term rentals.

Initially, the proposal targeted all STR operators in the downtown core, but after substantial backlash council amended the early motion and grandfathered in current STR license holders so that the new regulations do not apply.

Regulations also include restrictions on parking, signage, and multi-family housing such as duplexes, as well as a maximum of three sleeping units, and six guests.

The mayor thanked staff for the work put into the project, and then called the motion to a vote. Council carried the adoption save for Coun. Craig Humphreys who opposed.

Bylaw 2801: The accompanying business licence Bylaw 2801 also has to be amended to align with the short-term rental bylaw.

At the April 2 meeting, the bylaw was read for a second and third time, with changes to the bylaw made in response to lifting the moratorium on STR applications in downtown Rossland.

Angela Price, owner/operator of Angela’s B&B and Guest House, wrote a letter to council addressing the increase in licence fees for BnBs and commercially zoned guest houses.

An annual licence will go up from $150 per year to $500 for BnBs and up to $800 for commercially zoned STRs.

“If Rossland pushes ahead with the deeply flawed and unpopular plan, and if you need money to pay for controlling STRS,” wrote Price. “Please consider raising business licences for those who will benefit: the Josie, the Prestige, the motels. And get Red to contribute, as their real estate will benefit.”

Coun. Humpherys asked staff again why there is an increase in fees for BnBs?

Staff pointed out that the BnB licence is a new classification and is more commercial than previously zoned.

“Increases are involved with all the enforcement, and regulation development, implementation and monitoring for all short-term rentals so all of those costs are apportioned appropriately according to the impact,” said city planner Stacey Lightbourne.

Staff also confirmed that the hotels pay $125 for a business licence, but they more than make up for it in property taxes for commercial zoning.

Coun. Mya Provencal and Coun. Jeff Weaver were in favour of the rates and pointed out that the costs were relatively low, and the current fees comparable to other municipalities, while Morel added that the fees were more realistic for covering costs of the city.

Humpherys sympathized with the operators saying that a 300 per cent increase was punitive, and should be revisited.

Coun. Eliza Boyce asked staff if they could reconsider the rate without going through the whole process.

Bryan Teasdale, chief administrator, said the fee increases will not come into effect until 2025, but that to move forward with amendments, they would have to rescind the third reading, and return to a second reading and more discussion.

“We will have to get a final third reading done, then we need to post it in a public newspaper again for another two weeks and get people to come to another council meeting to adopt it at a future time.”

Coun. Stewart Spooner was not so sympathetic, saying: “These people are running commercial businesses without paying commercial tax.

“They are getting a sweetheart deal; $500 is nothing compared to what they make.”

Mayor Morel put the motion to a vote, and it carried with only Humpherys opposed.

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Jim Bailey

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