Staff at Fernie City Hall are brainstorming how to lay the foundation for regulating short term rentals in the community.
Last week, City Council directed the Planning Department to begin developing a framework for how it will permit and enforce services such as Airbnb that rent out rooms in residential homes.
Planning Manager Peter Sorfleet says it sounds weird to say “framework” when discussing policy, but it’s important to note that its not one bylaw they potentially need to be change, it’s a whole suite of them.
Sorfleet adds they’ll also need to build processes around any amendments such as how do they enforce the bylaws now and respond to any complaints.He admits it’s too early to say what exactly is the best solution is for Fernie.
However he suggests, that’s what they are doing now. Coming up with the best solution.
Sorfleet explains this might involve new permit processes, regulating short term rentals through business licensing or implementing some sort of taxation.
He says there are several different options on the table, and the point now is to assess all of them and determine what works best for the community and then present that to Council for their consideration.
Fernie, like many tourism municipalities across BC, has long with placing rules around these services because they aren’t regulated and are mostly operated online.
Members of the Fernie Chamber of Commerce are concerned with the lack of regulation or enforcement of these rentals in residential properties and the business it takes away from hotels.
Sorfleet says a recent public survey on the issue, which garnered nearly 300 responses, yielded one clear result – residents wants rules in place.
The Planning Manager suggests this project is a major priority for his department, and Council would like new regulations in place before the next ski season.
– Josh Hoffman
– Fernie Manager of Planning Patrick Sorfleet