A total of 196 residents provided their feedback and comments on Invermere’s proposed 2021 budget, as well as thoughts on how the municipality is handling affordable housing, its parks, and short-term rentals, among other topics.

The District of Invermere said the annual budget survey provides the public with an opportunity to identify priorities in Council and staff’s budgeting process.

“Survey responses are important to the completion of the 2021-2025 Budget and will help determine where funds and services are allocated, and how tax rates are determined,” said the District of Invermere.

Public engagement was conducted in February, with 196 people participating in the survey. It was made available online and through paper copies. Comments were also taken by the District of Invermere by email and on Facebook.

As per the survey results, most residents believe affordable housing, roads, and water should be Invermere’s immediate areas of focus moving forward.

Most residents believe Invermere does not have enough affordable housing. Only 9.95% (19) think the community has adequate affordable housing, while 78.01% (149) believe more affordable housing options are needed.

“That’s one of our biggest problem areas that we’ve got here,” Mayor Allen Miller told MyEastKootenayNow.com after the release of the survey results on Wednesday. “It’s going to take some time to solve.”

Miller did say that construction is underway on the 30 affordable housing units previously announced in partnership with the B.C. Government, Family Dynamix, and Columbia Basin Trust.

“One thing I am very happy about though is we do have some being built as we speak and so in a matter of a few months, there will be some units coming on stream for both low-income and women and children.”

PREVIOUS: Affordable housing units under construction in Invermere (Jan. 27, 2021)

When it came to short-term rentals, there was a divided split. When asked how they feel about short-term rentals in their neighbourhood, 35.75% (69) believe they aren’t an issue as long as they are regulated while 24.87% (48) feel very uncomfortable with them. The survey results found that 16.58% (32) think short-term rentals do not pose any issue in their neighbourhood while 22.80% (44) are moderately uncomfortable. When combined, 101 respondents (52.3%) think short-term rentals aren’t an issue, while 92 (44.24%) are moderately or very uncomfortable with the rentals. Following that initial question however, 70.92% (139) support the regulation and licensing of short-term rentals in Invermere’s bylaws.

“We need to have short-term rentals,” said Miller. “I think, economically it’s good for the area, for people, for their homes and that, to be able to make a few extra dollars.”

However, Miller said they will be looking at how they can mitigate the negative impacts that short-term rentals can sometimes bring to a community too.

“We can also see the effects on some of the neighbourhoods where short-term rentals haven’t gone as well, possibly where there’s been vacant owners and such in those neighbourhoods, and there’s been several parties – that hasn’t gone over so well. We have to get some management in place and so we will be looking at that.”

The survey also found that the majority of residents are in favour of Invermere taking control and ownership over James Chabot Provincial Park if they could to improve its condition. 80.51% were in favour of the municipality taking over the park, compared to 8.21% against that notion.

The public has access to the full results of Invermere’s 2021 Budget Survey. Both comments and results from the SurveyMonkey and Website surveys are linked below:

2021 District of Invermere Budget Survey Results (Survey Monkey)

2021 District of Invermere Budget Survey Results (District of Invermere)