The District of Sicamous is looking for public input as it seeks to address concerns around short-term rentals.
Throughout July, the district has been running a survey online about short-term rentals such as Airbnb and VRBO (vacation rental by owner).
The district has also been hosting a series of online and in-person consultations on the topic, and more are on the way.
The community engagement has been a long time in the making. A district staff report to Sicamous council, dated March 2, 2020, outlined complaints often received by the district on short-term rentals. They included impact to affordable housing stock, impact to local hoteliers, traffic concerns and noise complaints, among others.
The report provided sample recommendations for short-term rental regulations, such as requiring all short-term accommodation owners to provide a local person who can respond to on-site issues when the owner is unable. Those given this responsibility would need to have current contact information on file with the district’s bylaw department.
The district held a short-term rental online workshop on July 8, 2021. It asked questions like: should short-term rentals be regulated? Where do you think short-term rentals should be?
According to the district, participants at the July 8 workshop largely agreed short-term rentals should be allowed. However, many attendees had ideas for rules and regulations that were recorded on a district graphic.
Suzanne Carpenter, a former Sicamous councillor, said she believes the amount of short-term rentals in Sicamous is getting out of control. She’s not against Airbnb’s, but is of the opinion they need to be regulated.
Carpenter likes many of the changes that have happened to Sicamous in her time living there, but said she has a problem with its current “lack of housing for regular people.”
She said she’s seen trailers with no sewer hookup parked in yards and on Main Street.
“I feel people have no choice as there are very few rentals; what are they to do?” said Carpenter.
In addition to short-term rental regulations, she’d like to see more money invested in affordable housing for Sicamous.