Revelstoke can opt in to B.C.’s permanent residency requirement for short term rentals

A map showing availability of short term rental housing. Each marker on the map shows the price of various rental properties.
The city is zoned for short-term rentals in Arrow Heights and downtown. The city has to decide if it will opt in to a new provincial law that will change STR regulation in town. Screenshot by Meagan Deuling.
Meagan Deuling - VF 2590 - RevelstokeBC | 23-11-2023
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British Columbia passed new legislation at the end of October that brings sweeping changes to how short-term rentals are managed across the province. The effect that this law will have on Revelstoke is still being determined.

"I don't say this lightly, they're unprecedented and they're probably the most substantial legislative changes in B.C.'s history with respect to planning," said Paul Simon, Revelstoke's lead planner.

The idea behind Bill 35 is to manage short term rentals in such a way that they don't take the place of housing stock.

"That's the intention here is for housing, housing, housing," said Counc. Aaron Orlando at a Nov. 16 Committee of the Whole meeting, where council asked staff for an overview of the legislation.

The most significant part of the law is one that currently doesn't currently apply to Revelstoke, because it's classified as a resort municipality. It will be up to council to opt in to what's called the permanent residency requirement.

It would require anyone operating a short-term rental, to operate it out of their principal residence only. In Revelstoke, many people who live in town, and some who don't, invested in properties as non-principal residences as a way to capitalize on the demand for short-term rentals in town.

B.C. will require people operating short-term rentals, to sign up to a provincially operated registration system that Simon said may be up and running at the end of 2024.

B.C. will create a provincial enforcement branch to support the implementation of the legislation, that will be modelled after the residential tenancy branch. The new law also allows municipalities to increase maximum fines from $1000 a day to $3000 a day, and this would apply to any bylaw infraction, not just one relating to short-term rentals.

If a person is operating a short-term rental, on any platform, and doesn't have a business license for it, the municipality can request they remove it. The law will eliminate allowances that were previously grandfathered in.

Councillors expressed concern that cracking down on short-term rentals without thinking out the implications could have unintended consequences, and may not address the housing crisis in town.

Council requested staff to write a comprehensive report on the new law, which they will present in a special Committee of the Whole meeting in the new year. After this, the city will hold a public information session about Bill 35.

Presumably the city will have a public input session and hearing as well, but they haven't gotten that far.

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