The Thompson-Nicola Regional board has denied permission for a Langley family to rent its East Barriere Lake cabin on Airbnb, in what was the first application to go before the board since the regional district put in place short-term rental regulations.
In the TNRD, short-term rentals are allowed under lakeshore resort and recreational-commercial zoning — essentially areas that allow resorts or travel accommodations.
The board denied Ryan and Tracey Dahl of Langley a temporary-use permit to enable short-term vacation rental on their property, which is zoned rural and allows only one dwelling for single-family residential use.
The property had been posted for rent on Airbnb — an online service through which people post short-term rental ads — and drew the ire of neighbours who complained. The TNRD enforces illegal short-term rentals on a complaint basis and the applicants sought to legalize the rental Thursday, requesting a temporary-use permit for three years.
During a public hearing on Thursday, Ryan Dahl said he intended to lend and/or rent the property, located at 5115 East Barriere Lake, primarily to family and friends for between 20 to 30 days each year. He said his family cannot not be at the lake during the entire summer, noting rental income would help offset costs of owning the lake property.
“We are not trying to establish a lucrative short-term rental business that overtakes our use of the property,” Dahl said.
However, neighbouring property owner Linda Hartl told the board the Dahl property shares a driveway and gate with her lakeside retirement home, which she and her husband have lived in during the summer months for the past 16 years. Hartl stressed the importance of neighbours being mindful of one another.
Would strangers care? She isn’t so sure. Hartl noted securing her property would mean building a 400-foot fence, which she called an “unfair” financial burden.
Other residents opposing the application filled the TNRD gallery. Concerns were raised about fire risks, garbage, impacts to wildlife, lake safety, impact on property values and opening up the floodgate for further rentals on the lake.
Hartl noted cabins on the lake are being torn down in favour of building large homes to rent. One listing, she said, advertises sleeping up to 28 people.
“It’s happening to us at the lake,” she said, noting short-term rentals are “very lucrative.”
Sun Peaks Mayor Al Raine recommended the board not support the temporary-use permit, following lessons learned at his resort municipality. He said rezoning has created conflicts, due to residents having purchased property and not expecting a rental to pop up next door.
“I would really recommend to this board that we don’t go there,” Raine said.
Kamloops Coun. Mike O’Reilly noted hundreds of legal short-term rentals in the regional district. He suggested limiting the temporary-use permit to one year and requiring a minimum seven-night stay to weed out the party crowd.
The board could effectively put any restriction on the permit, but it instead defeated the temporary use permit application, to cheers and tears from East Barriere Lake residents.
“I am so happy for all the community, not just for me, who it impacts the most,” Hartl said. “The whole community is so close-knit and tight. We’ve all got concerns and we want to keep the lake as special as we all think it is now.”
TNRD staff told KTW the decision will not impact future applications and does not set any kind of precedent, as suggested by residents. The issue of how to tackle short-term rentals is being dealt with worldwide in the age of digital disruption. Sun Peaks and lakefront properties comprise the most short-term rentals in the regional district.
TNRD director of development services Regina Sadilkova said the TNRD has had “very few complaints” about short-term rentals. When it comes to enforcement of illegal short-term rentals, however, one situation will go to court next month. The TNRD is pursuing a court injunction over a zoning violation due to short-term rental in a residential rural zone.