Services like Airbnb, VRBO and others have the short-term vacation rental industry booming. File photo

Penticton expects short-term rentals to continue to grow

Need for greater enforcement to convince operators to comply with city regs.

The City of Penticton’s latest report on short-term rentals predicts there will be more than 400 short-term Airbnb-type rentals being advertised in Penticton during the peak tourism period this year.

It may end up being even higher. A search for Penticton on Airbnb results in 573 listings for the area. That’s actually down a little from March 2018, when the same search returned 582 listings.

A couple of the listings are taking advantage of Penticton’s licensing rules for short-term rentals as an advertising point, describing themselves as “One of the very few City of Penticton inspected and sanctioned vacation rentals.”

Building and permitting manager Ken Kunka said the growth in short term rentals can be seen in the “vacation rental and B&B tourism fee,” which was introduced to help balance the two per cent additional hotel room tax accommodaters are required to collect to help fund tourism marketing.

In 2015, $5,800 was collected, and in 2018 that rose to $22,275. It’s estimated to grow again in 2019, to $35,000.

“This is a fast changing business and sometimes municipalities struggle to keep up,” said Coun. Julius Bloomfield pointing out that after only a decade in business, Airbnb is now valued at $30 million.

“That kind of action doesn’t happen without a substantial demand from the public,” said Bloomfield. “I think we need to look at what these owners are providing and maybe adapt our thinking to allow for different types of accommodation.”

Penticton began allowing short-term rentals in 2010, but it wasn’t until 2017 that staff conducted a review of the growth of the industry and its effect on tourism, residential nuisances and long term rental accommodation.

Related: Mayor says no decision made on vacation rentals

That was updated last year, with city staff wanting support for enhanced enforcement to crack down on owners not complying with the city’s licencing rules: increased fines and tracking non-compliant operations through a third-party.

“Currently there are 150 non-compliant short term rental units being advertised within Penticton,” said Kunka. “It is estimated that with continued consistent education and enforcement short-term rental licensing will increase to over 250 units in 2019.”

Related: City wants more compliance with short-term rentals

Kunka also said there are “very few communities” in the Okanagan with a short-term rental program. In some, like Peachland, short-term rentals are not permitted, and others — Lake Country and West Kelowna — restrict them to certain zones. Kelowna introduced its own legislation in Dec. 2018.

Steve Kidd
Senior reporter, Penticton Western News
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