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‘Communism territory’: Man miffed building not exempt from B.C.’s new short-term rental rules

At last, the City of Kelowna received answers from the province on possible exemptions regarding short-term rentals in secondary suites or homes.

Last year, the province announced controversial legislation on short-term rentals, essentially stating that affordable housing was a priority over the renting of rooms for profit.

However, there are numerous buildings in Kelowna built and zoned for short-term rentals, buildings for which city council was seeking exemptions.

“Staff went and chatted with the province about that and did some advocacy,” said city planner Ryan Smith, “and found that there wasn’t going to be an avenue to consider exemptions beyond what the province specifically allows in their legislation.”

Generally speaking, it means buildings that allow short-term rentals will no longer be able to do so.

That has upset many people who bought units for that specific purpose, including Sam Ciacco, a short-term rental owner.

“If the intention of the legislation is to return housing to long-term markets, the province shouldn’t have any opposition to requests for properties that were never part of the long-term housing pool to begin with,” Ciacco said.

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Ciacco said he bought a unit in Playa Del Sol last summer and paid a premium price for the commercially zoned property.

He said he continues to pay additional monthly costs and that renting it long-term doesn’t make financial sense.

Selling the property isn’t that simple, he said, because of its commercial designation.

“It’s not CMHC insurable. Only commercial mortgages can be taken out on it and there’s only a handful of banks that will do that,” said Ciacco. “And you need to be a qualified investor with a significant downpayment to do that, sometimes upwards of 25 per cent. So it puts it out of reach for a lot of a lot of homebuyers.”

Ciacco is upset the city isn’t doing more to protect thousands more people in the same position.

“They should be standing up for Kelowna homeowners,” he said, “and they should be pursuing it legally if required. They should be doing whatever it takes to support the Kelowna homeowners.”

“(Kelowna) is just basically throwing up their hands and saying ‘We’re too lazy to deal with this. We don’t care,’ in essence, and ‘We’ll just let the chips fall where they fall.’”

In response, Smith says the city did approach the province, albeit without success.

“We definitely did. And there just isn’t that opportunity,” said Smith. “Any anger is misdirected; these are provincially driven changes that are impacting properties like Playa Del Sol.”

The province’s housing minister Ravi Kahlon is standing firm on the new legislation, saying the measures are badly needed amid the housing crisis.

“No one wants to see anyone lose money on investments,” Kahlon told Global News. “But what we know is that when you have people literally next door, or within the community, who can’t find anywhere to live, people in the community who are seeing their rents go up because of more housing stock being lost to short-term rentals, it’s unacceptable.”

Ciacco accused the government of taking this too far, saying “We’re crossing into very dangerous communism territory.”

The new rules take effect on May 1.

More information about the rules is available online.

&copy 2024 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.


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