Rossland city council heard from concerned neighbours in the Iron Colt subdivision who were opposed to a short-term rental rezoning during Monday night’s council meeting but ultimately decided to approve the rezoning.
During the public hearing, two neighbours spoke against the rezoning of 2622 MacLeod Ave. to allow a carriage house on the property to be used for short-term rental. The city also received eight written submissions in opposition to the rezoning.
The first neighbour to speak during the public hearing argued that the Iron Colt subdivision was unique and that he felt a short-term rental in the subdivision would disrupt the neighbourhood.
“It’s a fairly unique subdivision, mostly of professional people. People who work long hours, people who … work sometimes shift like my neighbour, and we really value our privacy, the quietness of the subdivision. And those are very important things to all of the people,” he said.
He also argued that the applicants had no previous experience running a short-term rental and that the applicants’ driveway was too steep for a visitor to drive up.
The second neighbour made the argument that denying the rezoning would not deprive the applicants of additional income, because they could still use the coach house for long-term rental.
“Short-term rental may be more profitable, more lucrative, but obviously it brings other disadvantages,” he said. “Also if we look at Rossland overall, Rossland at the moment is having a deficit of long-term rental, as well all know.”
He also said that he might not feel safe letting his children play around the neighbourhood with a short-term rental in the area.
The applicants then addressed some of their neighbours’ comments.
They are a couple with a newborn child and both work as registered nurses at the Kootenay Boundary Regional Hospital. They explained that they wanted the short-term rental to supplement their income because the wife will be working part-time to take care of their child.
They explained that they did not have previous experience as short-term renters, but did have experience as long-term renters, and it has not all been positive.
“The thing a with a short-term tenant is if you have a bad one, they’re gone in three days or a week. If you have a bad long-term tenant, they’re there for a long time, and the rights that you have as a landlord aren’t very strong to evict that person,” said the husband.
The applicants also wanted the flexibility to offer the carriage house to residents or med-school students working at the hospital.
They assured their neighbours that they would never rent out the unit when they aren’t home.
“We’re not looking to ruin the neighbourhood, anything like that. We’re just trying to use our personal asset to better our family,” said the husband.
Council deliberated the rezoning during the regular meeting that followed, and Coun. Aaron Cosbey pointed to all of the work that went into creating the city’s short-term rental regulations. He also pointed out that the application for 2622 MacLeod Ave. met all of the requirements laid out in those regulations.
“If we deny this application, which is completely within the rules, we’re basically scuttling the whole thing,” said Cosbey.
The first neighbour who spoke during the public hearing then got upset, asking, “Why did we have this meeting then? If your argument holds, then why do we have a public input process?”
“This is a very good point,” responded Cosbey. “We’re actually not legally bound to grant that application. … We can deny the application without giving grounds to do it. … I am saying that I don’t see any compelling reason to deny it that wouldn’t apply to any other property in town, and therefore I don’t want to deny it.”
The same neighbour asked how many neighbours needed to be opposed for council to deny an application.
Coun. Andrew Zwicker argued that it had less to do with the number of neighbours opposed and more to do with the reasons that they were opposed.
Mayor Kathy Moore was also unconvinced by the arguments made for denying the application.
“I understand the arguments that you made, it’s just that as with my compatriots here, we didn’t find them compelling,” she said.
Council ultimately voted unanimously to approve the rezoning and adopted the necessary bylaw.