Few details emerge in Revelstoke city vacation rental discussion

Possible vacation rental policy directions include creating a new tourist accommodation zone and creating a central reservation and booking service for vacation rentals.

Revelstoke City Hall on Mackenzie Avenue. Photo: Revelstoke Mountaineer file photo

A discussion of future vacation rental policy in Revelstoke at a Dec. 12 city committee meeting didn’t provide many new details on the city’s future direction with vacation rentals, although there were a few hints.

Vacation rentals, the total number of which continues to climb, have divided Revelstoke in many ways, especially since the introduction of booking platforms like AirBNB helped facilitate their operations, allowing them to proliferate.

At a Dec. 12 committee of the whole meeting, Marianne Wade, the City of Revelstoke director of development services, gave an oral presentation to the committee, which is comprised of the mayor and council.

There was no documentation or reports made available on the meeting agenda. The discussion lasted for about 50 minutes.

Wade provided some background on vacation rentals in Revelstoke, reviewing the history of the vacation rental regime, including the current spot-zoning system that requires individual property owners to apply for vacation rental zoning.

She said the department, along with three consultants, is reviewing the status quo and exploring options. The main thrust of the report was that staff is looking for a way forward on the vacation rentals issue and will present a report to council next year.

“Staff are going to have to sort through … and bring [it] back to you in a report,” Wade said. “I can see a plan moving forward. I feel very comfortable with this issue because of my background in Whistler.”

Wade discussed some issues and possible policy directions. At this point, it’s not clear whether these will be part of the final city staff vacation rental policy proposal. They included:

-tightening legal definitions to distinguish between various kinds of vacation rentals

-defining vacation rentals according to bed numbers in order to better sync with provincial regulations

-establishing zones where vacation rentals will be allowed and where they won’t

-establishing a central booking authority where vacation rentals are booked through

-changing zoning rules to create a tourist accommodation zone. “We don’t have a tourist accommodation zone, which a lot of resorts have,” Wade said, adding it was about “where best to put vacation rentals.”

-finding a way to deal with vacation zoning applications that are in limbo since the city stopped processing vacation rental applications about two years ago.

Wade also discussed consulting with the public on future vacation rental plans.

There was some discussion of when the report will be ready; while some councillors wanted an estimate, Mayor Gary Sulz was reluctant to put a date on the report out of concern that it would set up an expectation staff may not be able to meet.

“I’m looking forward to Ms. Wade’s report,” Sulz said.

Watch the committee discussion of the vacation rentals issue starting here: