Cabin owners lose B.C. Supreme Court fight to rent properties to vacationers

Friends and business partners Chris Cade and Paul Patton have lost their nearly year-long battle with the Thompson-Nicola Regional District to have short-term rentals at the cabins they own together on Red Lake, about 50 kilometres northwest of Kamloops.

The B.C. Supreme Court granted the Interior B.C. regional district's request for an injunction last week, prohibiting the cabin owners from renting out their waterfront properties for "traveller accommodation use."

"It was crushing news honestly to myself and Chris, to my family, the kids, [they] have grown up at this place, and frankly for all of the families that have rented our place over the years, they too have brought up their children [here]," said Patton.

He and Cade argued that when they bought the one-bedroom cabins in 2008, it was before the district implemented their 2012 zoning bylaw that makes it clear short-term rentals aren't allowed. As well, they argued that short-term rentals are part of the definition of having a holiday home or recreational cottage, which is what their cabins were classified as under the previous zoning bylaw. 

Submitted by Chris Cade

However, Supreme Court Justice Barbara Norell ruled in the district's favour, deciding that since the previous zoning bylaw didn't say that short-term rentals were allowed, they were never permitted in the area to begin with.

Complaints from neighbours

The cabin owners' conflict with the district escalated to the B.C. Supreme Court after years of complaints from a few neighbours about some of their renters, Patton, a Kelowna businessman, told Daybreak South host Chris Walker. 

In a statement to CBC, Regina Sadilkova, director of development services for the Thompson-Nicola Regional District, said residents in the area have been complaining to the district about the cabins since 2010. 

"The neighbours reported that nightly rentals were happening throughout the year, disrupting the peace and quiet of the rural Red Lake area," she said.

Patton said they never put the cabins on Airbnb and they were only renting them to people they knew or through referrals, to help absorb some of the costs of the properties, which they use for vacationing with their families.

"We never had the intention of making a business out of that. In fact, every single year for the past 11 years we have lost about $6,000 dollars per cabin," he said.

'I feel sick,' says Patton

Patton and Cade aren't the only ones that may be affected by Justice Norell's order. It could potentially lead to stronger enforcement around short-term rentals in other homes in the area too. 

"I think really why I'm upset about this is I feel sick, because I might have inadvertently caused problems for other vacation homeowners just by challenging this and a ruling coming out," said Patton.

Sadilkova said that short-term rentals have never been allowed in residential zones throughout the district unless someone has been granted a temporary use permit.

Patton and Cade will be selling their vacation properties at Red Lake.

"Unfortunately, they will both be sold at a fire sale price," he said.