City Council discusses short-term rentals in Fernie

Fernie City Council received a presentation from Fernie Chamber of Commerce Director regarding short-term rental units in Fernie.

At the July 11 Committee of the Whole meeting, Fernie City Council received a presentation from Fernie Chamber of Commerce Director, Patty Vadnais regarding short-term rental units within the city of Fernie. The popularity of short-term rental units has increased with the expanding online market of vendors such as Airbnb, VRBO, Owner Direct and Fernie Central Reservations.

According to Vadnais’ presentation, there are currently 59 units with the total guest capacity of 385 people, which are operating outside of the City’s zoning bylaws. These units are renting entire homes in residential zones.

Vadnais also noted there are 24 short-term rentals that are operating legally, according to the zoning bylaws. These 24 units are located in Fernie 901 and Silver Rock condominiums and have the capacity to host 103 people. Both Fernie 901 and Silver Rock fall into a commercial zone under the City’s zoning bylaw.

Short-term rentals can operate in a residential zone if they operate as a Bed and Breakfast. Vadnais outlined the stipulations for operating a Bed and Breakfast as, “a) shall be owner occupied; b) shall not provide more than three rooms for the purpose of paying guests within the home; c) one parking space must be provided on site for each room to be rented; d) employment of one additional staff allowed to assist in operations.”

These rules apply exclusively to residential zones R1 and R1B.

“Short-term rentals in multi-family complexes or high density zones such as Cokato Apartments, Ridgemont Apartments or Veneto Apartments are a violation of the zoning bylaw. As well, renting an entire house outside of commercial areas is a zoning violation,” said Vadnais.

In her presentation to Council, Vadnais referenced communities similar to Fernie, and what they are doing to try and curb the issue of illegal short-term rentals.

“We have seen the Revelstoke City Council, after investigating the extent of illegal vacation rentals, put forward a recommendation to set a cap on the number of vacation rentals, and is proposing active bylaw enforcement,” she said. “Their rationale stems from the fact that illegal short-term rentals are avoiding commercial tax, are benefitting without contributing to the paid tourism marketing that advertises their community and creating noise and parking disturbances.”

Vadnais also referenced Tofino and Nelson as similar communities who are facing the same problem as Fernie in regards to short-term rentals. Nelson commissioned a researcher to look into the issue and to construct a regulation model for the city.

According to Vadnais, the B.C. Chamber of Commerce is lobbying the provincial government to enforce a provincial sales tax, along with a municipal and regional district tax by the service provider.

“For example, what this would mean is if you book on Airbnb, the provincial and hotel taxes would be collected by Airbnb and remitted to the province that way,” she said, adding the Fernie Chamber of Commerce supports this effort.

“Someone should be able to purchase a home in the Airport or Annex and not expect a hotel next door,” said Vadnais. “In looking at these numbers, there are many opportunities to offer short-term rentals legally under the current zoning.”

Vadnais’ main request was that the City look at the current 59 rental units that are operating outside of the current zoning bylaws, and Vadnais said the Chamber would support the City to create education literature to inform the public on the current zoning bylaws. Council agreed that some action needed to be taken in regards to non-compliant short-term rental units. Councillor Dan McSkimming said he hoped Council could come up with a reasonable action plan by the beginning of the winter tourism season.

Just Posted

Komatsu announces plans for $40M, 85k-square-foot facility in Sparwood

Komatsu Mining Corp. has announced plans to develop a new 85,000-square-foot sales… Continue reading

Former Fernie Ghostrider re-signs with Vancouver Canucks

Josh Teves has signed a two-year contract with the NHL team

Motor vehicle incident in Sparwood results in death of dump truck driver

An individual has died after the dump truck they were driving went… Continue reading

Fernie chainsaw carver wins big at Logger Days

Michael Penny placed 3rd at Powell River Logger Sports, last weekend

UPDATED: RCMP confirm one death in accident

Two motorcycles ran into the back of a vehicle towing a boat trailer on highway near Cranbrook

VIDEO: Young couple found dead in northern B.C. had been shot, police say

Chynna Noelle Deese of the U.S. and Lucas Robertson Fowler of Australia were found along Highway 97

VIDEO: Man found dead near B.C. teens’ truck could be linked to a double homicide

RCMP said they are looking for Kam McLeod, 19, and Bryer Schmegelsky, 18, of Port Alberni

Latest plan is to fly trapped fish by helicopter over Big Bar slide

Multi-pronged plan set in motion to freesalmon blocked by landslide in the Fraser River

Family of missing B.C. senior with dementia frustrated with situation, heartened by community support

Nine days since Grace was last seen the question remains: ‘How can an 86-year-old just disappear?’

B.C. removes personal limits for bringing home out-of-province alcohol

Previous relgulations placed limits on the amount of liquor that B.C. residents could bring home

Unsealed record suggests U.S. man convicted of murdering Vancouver Island couple left DNA on zip tie in 1987

William Talbott is set to be sentenced Wednesday in the murders of Jay Cook and Tanya Van Cuylenborg

Okanagan Air Cadet challenges gender-exclusive haircut policy

Haircut regulation inspires challenge around gender identity

VIDEO: Bystander training gains traction as tool to prevent sexual harassment, violence

Julia Gartley was sexually assaulted after an event, and no one stepped in to help

Two brands of ice cream sandwiches recalled due to presence of metal

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency issued a recall on Iceberg and Originale Augustin brands

Most Read