STR bylaw will come before new council

·3 min read

A short term rental bylaw will come back to council in November, followed by a public hearing in December to hear public comments.

After discussion at the Aug. 31 standing committee meeting, council decided that amending the Land Use Bylaw (LUB) to include regulations around Short Term Rentals (STRs) was not the right way to go.

Coun. Albert Ostashek noted it would be confusing to weed through the LUB to make sure operators are catching all the different requirements, and that it would be easier to have a stand alone bylaw address all the requirements.

Acting CAO, Laura Howarth, said administration does review if the applicant’s district complies with the LUB, and that it makes more sense for the STR to belong in the LUB with other home based businesses. A draft STR Bylaw was prepared in administration’s report, however, having a separate bylaw may get lost in the system long term, the report stated.

“The challenges for the potential operators still exist in the sense that if I am a non-resident owner of a stand alone house and I’m going to rent it as a long term rental accommodation in Hinton, I don’t require a business license for that. If I make a decision to start renting it as an STR, unless I am familiar enough with the LUB to know that I need a business license to do that, there’s no particular way that I would have any knowledge that I would need to do that. Whereas if there’s a stand alone STR bylaw, it could simply refer to that and know I do need a business license in terms of less than 30 days,” Ostashek said.

Howarth noted that delaying this bylaw to November is due to the upcoming municipal election and the fact that council can only vote on second and third reading if they participated in the first reading.

According to administration’s report, there is an estimate of 90 STRs on the market in Hinton. Governments at all levels have been slow to provide a regulatory framework to this growing industry. There are no federal or municipal regulations specific to STRs, but provincially a Tourism Levy Bill - equivalent to a hotel tax - was introduced April 1.

Administration first recommended changes to the existing LUB to treat STRs as a Home-Based Business like Bed and Breakfasts and Home Occupations that require a development permit and a business license. In this, the only difference was that a development permit would not be required if the operator does not reside at the rental premises.

Lorraine Walker, Hinton’s municipal planner, explained this was a commonality amongst municipalities they researched and that the reason it wouldn’t be considered a home based business is due to the host not residing there.

Nelson pointed out that the amendments to the LUB included that the STR be completely within the principal building and not contain any cooking facilities. He said this would have an impact on anybody with a kitchen in their suites, as they would not be allowed to rent it out as an STR. A suite above a garage or in a separate building would also require different applications, Walker explained.

“These STRs at this time and place in this recommendation from development services, is that we will just be putting them into the residential districts where you see the home rentals already because we are not ready to go into the commercial nodes at this time,” Walker said.

The Alberta Hotel and Lodging Association appeared as a delegation to council on Jan. 19, 2021 to outline the urgent need for the Town of Hinton to create a “level playing field” and to strive to create regulations that govern STRs.

An STR Workshop was held between Administration and Council and administration was then directed to bring back a draft STR bylaw. The next elected council will be reviewing and giving first reading to the draft STR bylaw in November 2021.

Masha Scheele, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Hinton Voice

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