Bed and breakfast owners operating within the City of Revelstoke will see a drastic increase in annual licensing fees starting January 2024.
At its regular meeting on April 11, Revelstoke city council passed first, second, and third reading of a motion to increase fees for bed and breakfast operations to be on par with fees for short term rentals. As of January 2024, the fees for a B&B license will increase to $500 plus $250 for each additional licensed bedroom. Currently B&B license fees are $50 plus $4 per additional bedroom.
While the mayor and some councillors expressed concern about how quickly the motion was moving forward, all noted their overall support for the bylaw amendment to increase fees. Councillor Stapenhurst was the only member of council who remained opposed throughout discussions, asking if consideration be given for the $500 fee to be only for new B&B applicants and not for existing operations.
“I would propose if we want to look at [moving the amended bylaw ahead at] this speed and look at this fee for a new applicant as opposed to a repeat applicant simply because I think there is going to be a lot less hours involved,” said Stapenhurst, who later who noted he would prefer to see more aggressive ticketing of non-compliant operations.
In response, city lead planner Paul Simon said staff time to complete the application and necessary building and fire inspections is one component, but that bylaw enforcement on the back end is where more substantial costs are incurred including $13,500 for host compliance which monitors and tracks legal and illegal operators to help with enforcement on both a proactive and reactive basis. In addition, research and monitoring costs range from $27,000 to $81,000 dependent on the amount of hours required of development services staff.
“It really is a back end heavy process, so with respect to instituting a fee at the onset of the application I would say that might not necessarily be reflective of cost recovery,” said Simon.
During discussion on the motion, councillor Aaron Orlando stated he did not believe it fair for the public to help subsidize the cost of business owners, and that while there would be some sticker shock at the outset “what the city is trying to do is move to a system where we get compliance with our rules.” He further stated that “the $500 fee in the current market is equivalent to one- or two-nights accommodation depending on the size of the rental.”
Other BC communities increasing licensing fees for B&Bs, STRs
Councillor Matt Cherry, who originally brought up the motion that led to the staff report with recommended fee increases for B&Bs, said one of his goals was to begin looking more towards a cost recovery method.
“Right now what we’re seeing is a whole lot of STR owners that have been operating illegally just knocking the wall out of their suites and calling it a bed and breakfast and paying their $50 fee plus $4 because bed and breakfasts seem to be allowed in most zones,” said Cherry, who shared that he had spoken with both the chief license inspector and manager of proactive enforcement for the city of Vancouver about why their business license fees for short term rentals and bed and breakfasts were so low.
“They kept them historically low for the first couple years of operating as a way to get people to buy into not running them illegally, but they are currently looking at jumping them up significantly as well to help cover some of the costs. I think that’s one of the reasons why ours were historically low for so long for bed and breakfasts which is the ability of trying to get people to buy into a license … now that we have the tools to actively enforce I think it’s time to move forward towards more of a cost recovery mode.”
The motion passed with all but Stapenhurst in favour. Following correspondence from a concerned bed and breakfast owner presented during the April 18 regular council meeting, a motion was passed to have city staff send a letter to all B&B operators notifying them of the increase to business license fees beginning January 1, 2024.