After hearing concerns from Phase 2 owners — the majority from the Alpenglow Lodge in Whistler Village — the Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW) is revising a proposed bylaw that seeks to reinforce Phase 2 covenants.
The original proposed bylaw — introduced on May 23 after a lengthy review of Whistler's tourist accommodation offerings — would require Phase 2 properties to operate under a professional rental pool manager using a single integrated booking and front desk system.
The proposed amendment clarifies that doesn't necessarily mean a third-party rental pool manager.
The revision also clarifies that revenue sharing from rental activities is at the discretion of owners through their internal agreements.
RMOW staff is also proposing that it work with Alpenglow owners to achieve compliance with the existing Phase 2 covenant, which states that owners are restricted to a total of 56 days of use (28 days in summer and 28 days in winter), and that for the remaining days the unit must be placed into a bona fide rental-pool company for rental to visitors.
While the amendment is a step in the right direction, it doesn't address the core issues of Alpenglow owners, said owner Brandon Smith.
"A lot of the Alpenglow owners just want to be able to manage their own units, and that's why they bought into the Alpenglow... There's no issue with them being made available for nightly rentals, there's no issue if they want to have everything registered through an internal booking system like they already have in place, but the one thing that our owners are concerned about is being able to manage their own units," Smith said.
"Right now in the building there is probably three or four units that their owners are putting a lot of money into renovating, and they're just concerned that their investments are going to be devalued by putting them back into a model that's really been proven ineffective."
Blackcomb Lodge strata president Rita Bellano was one of several Phase 2 owners to speak at a June 6 public hearing, detailing the problems owners in that strata have had with their own property management company — including exorbitant and unfounded fees, and an attempt to take away owners' rights without notice.
She said it's good that the amendment will give more power to strata councils, but feels it doesn't go far enough.
"I think we need regulations. There should be guidelines to rental management (around) the fees that they're allowed to charge and things like that," she said.
"There could be more protections for the owners, who are technically your investors, and without them, you wouldn't have hotels."
Bellano said it may be helpful to have a platform to share information amongst strata councils, or even an owners' association or a subcommittee that could speak to owners' interests.
"The intent of the bylaw is good, but in practice it leaves owners and investors vulnerable. We need to have some standards," she said.
The revised bylaw was given third reading at the July 4 council meeting, and will come back for adoption along with a bylaw requiring nightly rentals to have business licences at the next council meeting on July 18.
Licences will cost $165 each, and staff are preparing a frequently asked questions page to be posted to the RMOW website after adoption.