C.N.P. passes tourist home regulations

·6 min read

After seven months of deliberations, adjustments and two public hearings, Crowsnest Pass officially has regulations for temporary tourist rentals.

Council passed second and third readings of Bylaw 1103, which amends the land use bylaw to include regulations for rentals popularized through websites like Airbnb.

Amendments to the business licence bylaw and fee rates and changes bylaw were also approved to accommodate changes for business licences and associated fines for contravening municipal rules.

What are the rules?

Bylaw 1103 defines short-term rentals as temporary rental properties where the owners live on-site, while tourist homes do not have the property owners living there.

Bed and breakfast establishments are similarly categorized as short-term rentals and will be required to follow the same regulations.

Short-term rental business licences now cost $500; to make up the difference of tourist homes paying residential property taxes while operating as commercial businesses, the tourist home business licences are calculated by multiplying the property assessment by 0.0055.

Operating without a business licence will result in a first-time fine that totals double the licence fee. Subsequent infractions will double the previous fine up to $10,000.

Any new temporary rental property must receive a development permit before the owner is allowed to buy a business licence.

Short-term rentals and tourist homes are now categorized as discretionary in all residential zones, meaning the Municipal Planning Commission must review and approve an application before the property can begin operations.

The development officer will maintain a map and list of approved temporary rentals and will inform any neighbouring properties within 100 metres of an approved application.

In the event of an emergency or issues with guests, short-term property owners must provide their personal contact information to the development officer. Tourist home owners are required to have a local adult able to respond to issues within 30 minutes, with their contact info also provided to the development officer.

Short-term rentals are permitted — that is, do not require approval from the Municipal Planning Commission — in grouped country residential (GCR-1 and 2), in an approved dwelling place in retail commercial (C-1), non-urban area (NUA-1), comprehensive resort village (CRV), and comprehensive ski village (CSV) zones. Short-term rentals remain discretionary in non-urban commercial recreation (NUCR-1 and 2).

Tourist homes do not have a permitted use in any zones. They are discretionary in grouped country residential, retail commercial (C-1), comprehensive resort village and comprehensive ski village zones.

Development permits will be valid for as long as the property has a valid business licence. A single property cannot receive both types of permits. The development permit number must be included in any advertisement for the property.

Permitting may be denied in discretionary zones if neighbourhood concerns like traffic, parking congestion, and the general use and enjoyment of residents are not adequately addressed in the application.

A denied application can be appealed within 14 days via written notice to the municipality’s chief administrative officer, who will then include the appeal as an agenda item at the next regular council meeting. The final decision will be completed and communicated to the property owner within 10 days of the council meeting.

An approved tourist home must maintain a minimum separation distance of 200 metres from other tourist home properties. At least two hard-surfaced parking stalls must be provided on-site.

Occupancy maximums for guests above the age of two for both short-term and tourist homes are set according to the total number of bedrooms (two occupants per room) and the maximum occupancy in the zoning (for example, six in residential and eight in comprehensive village zones).

All advertisements are required to include the maximum occupancy for the property. Advertising the occupancy for a greater amount will result in fines of $1,000 per day.

Property owners are required to provide their guests with a copy of the temporary rental regulations in the land use bylaw, along with a copy of the community standards bylaw and fire and rescue services bylaw. Infringements of those bylaws will result in fines issued to the property owner or guest, depending on the nature of the infraction.

Owners are also required to post a sign visible to the public in the front yard indicating the property is a temporary rental. Sign dimensions are limited to eight feet by two feet and must not extend higher than five feet above the ground.

Council debates

Council members unanimously accepted the bylaw’s regulations, with one exception: the 200-metre separation between tourist homes.

“Two hundred metres is a big distance,” said Coun. Dean Ward. “I think we should think really long and hard about that.”

For context, Coun. Ward said imposing the separation would result in only one tourist home being able to operate in his neighbourhood, which numbers 68 houses.

“One home out of 68 — that’s less than 1½ per cent,” he said. “We’re going to take a business [tourist homes] and say we’re open for business and we’d like to see business here, but this one we’re going to shred.”

Even if council reassessed the situation and reduced the separation requirement in the future, Coun. Ward continued, it would be difficult for a new tourist home to situate itself within the available space while respecting the new limit.

“Ninety-five per cent of this bylaw I completely agree with, but I disagree on the distance. That’s the only issue I have,” he said.

Coun. Vicki Kubick agreed, adding that too strict a separation would encourage people to operate tourist homes illegally.

We don’t want the bylaw to be onerous or difficult to comply with, and I think reducing the distance to 100 metres actually gives people an opportunity to comply with our bylaw and will reduce enforcement,” she said.

“Having a 200-metre distance will force those people who truly want to have a tourist home to fly under the radar because we’re just not offering them a broad enough bylaw to comply with.”

The rest of council, however, felt 200 metres was appropriate, with Coun. Glen Girhiny pointing out that short-term rentals could exist freely within the distance. Maintaining the distance, he said, was about protecting residents in the municipality.

“To me, this is more about community itself — more than the industry that this is,” he said.

Ensuring an adequate separation distance would be the best way for the municipality to control the number of tourist homes and protect residents’ quality of life, said Coun. Dave Filipuzzi.

“I do believe that we’ve got a lot of concerns in our community for tourist homes as to what effect they have on the quality of life, and this is going to be the way that we’ll monitor it,” he said.

“We’re still showing that we’re open to tourist homes, we’re still showing that we support them, but we’re also still showing that we’re a little bit cautious and we’re not trying to get ourselves in a scenario where other communities have got themselves in.”

What now?

The bylaw comes into effect Wednesday, July 27, at 10 a.m. Development permit applications will be accepted at that time — and not before — on a first come, first served basis at the municipal office.

Temporary rental properties currently operating illegally without a business licence have a grace period until Sept. 30. Fines will be imposed after that date.

Development permits will not be required until after owners acquire their 2023 business licences.

Sean Oliver, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Shootin' the Breeze

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