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Radium Hot Springs collecting feedback on policy to regulate short-term rentals

Regulation to short-term rentals in Radium Hot Springs is coming, as Village Council has put together a draft policy for review and input from the public.

This is Radium’s second kick at the can, making more in-depth changes from their first draft rental policy. The newest policy has four key objectives; ensuring short-term rentals are well managed, ensuring basic life safety standards are met, improving the alignment of accommodation standards, and facilitate “good neighbour” relations and behaviours.

Clara Reinhardt, Mayor of the Village of Radium Hot Springs told MyEastKootenayNow.com that short-term rentals first came to Radium’s attention back in 2014, which is when Airbnb, Vrbo, and other services started to “blow up” in the community.

“What we found is that it is a really important piece of our tourism market and that the short-term rentals offer something to our visitors that maybe is different or not available by some of the other accommodations,” said Reinhardt. “Council has been pretty clear from the onset that we’re not going to try to ban them but rather we’re going to try to manage them.”

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The Mayor said there is a disconnect in how short-term rentals pay taxes and utilities or contribute to the MRDT (Municipal & Regional District Tax Program), which is a 3% tax on accommodations that gets filtered back to municipalities, regional districts or other government entities to enhance tourism. Reinhardt said their focus with the rental policy is to try and ensure the playing field is more level, and although it may never be level between short-term rentals and traditional accommodations, they are looking to close some of the gaps.

“There are so many short-term rentals here that if we were to say, ban them, or make it so onerous that people decide they don’t want any part of it – if they can’t afford to keep that unit, then all of a sudden we’ll have this massive glut on the market of people selling out their properties, and that’s not good for anyone either, so it’s always trying to find that balance.”

Reinhardt said they are trying to strike a balance so hotels aren’t being overly penalized for following their rules and regulations as a commercial enterprise, versus someone using their own property without having to pay the same type of expenses.

MORE: Short-Term Rental Policy – Draft #2 (Radium Hot Springs)

Public safety is one piece the Village is worried about. Reinhardt said it’s different when strangers come and go and have access to a building that neighbours other private property. They want to have protocols in place where the owner of the short-term rental has someone able to respond in a timely manner if something were to happen. Reinhardt said those measures are in place to keep the guests safe, but also neighbours, and the property owners.

The new draft policy comes with a $340 annual permitting fee, while penalties and fines of $1,000 per day could be levied against those violating the rental policy or strata requirements.

“The penalty has to be strong enough that it’s a deterrent but not so strong that it’s not enforceable,” said Reinhardt. “Again, it’s all about finding that middle ground to encourage people to be compliant so that we can all live together and give our tourists and our visitors and our homeowners a real good experience in the Village.

Reinhardt told MyEastKootenayNow.com that it would be naive to be overly optimistic that they know exactly how the public is going to respond to the second draft of the policy, but they are looking for feedback.

Three public information and discussion sessions will be held to collect the feedback, while residents and affected parties can also make written submissions before October 16th. The three meetings will be held at the Radium Hot Springs Centre at 4863 Stanley Street, but anyone wanting to attend in-person on the 17th and 19th will have to pre-register. If you want to submit your thoughts in writing or attend in-person, email [email protected] Otherwise, the three sessions can be joined virtually, with detailed info on the events below:

  • Wednesday, October 14th
    • 2:00 pm (Zoom, in-person by preregistration)
    • Zoom Meeting ID: 865 0237 0837
    • Passcode: Radium
  • Saturday, October 17th
    • 10:00 am (Zoom only)
    • Zoom Meeting ID: 864 2416 5269
    • Passcode: Radium
  • Monday, October 19th
    • 7:00 pm (Zoom, in-person by preregistration)
    • Zoom Meeting ID: 814 0223 2248
    • Passcode: Radium

“We anticipate that we’ll be getting some pretty clear feedback and if it’s strong enough and from a large enough group, that we can probably make some more changes,” said Reinhardt. “The one thing that we are not going to do is, we have been very clear that we are not going to ban, and we’re not going to regulate numbers because that seems arbitrary.”

“We absolutely are going to regulate,” added the Mayor. “For the people who don’t want regulation, that’s not on the table. There can be some tweaking, and I anticipate there might be, but I’m hoping that people see that this is a really good start.”

The short-term rental policy will have built-in regular evaluations every year to get a sense of the market, but Reinhardt said that would most likely be implemented in year two of the policy so they can then make any further changes from real-world experience.

“We’ve looked at what all the other communities are doing, every community has different issues. It’s really hard to find a one-size-fits-all and so we’re trying to find the one size that fits for Radium.”

The hope for the Village of Radium Hot Springs is to have some form of a short-term rental policy in place by January 1st, 2021 in order to give plenty of time for those with short-term rentals to make the necessary changes and comply before the busy summer tourism season.

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