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Proposed TA regulations presented Saturday

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Information meeting moved to Myrtle Philip school

A court ruling and the suspension of a business licence are not doing much to dissuade illegal renters in the resort.

Now the municipality is proposing another way to address the contentious issue of Tourist Accommodation and will present its proposal at a public meeting on Saturday, Oct. 5.

By making amendments to the business regulation and business licence bylaws, the municipality can change the rules to crack down on "illegal" renters.

In the proposed amendments on the municipality’s Web site it states:

"The municipality cannot regulate business practices such as marketing of non-zoned properties through the zoning bylaw... Thus, the municipality decided to enforce the marketing and renting of non tourist zoned accommodation through its business regulations and business licence bylaws."

There are no changes proposed for owners of residentially zoned property.

Residentially zoned property owners can still rent property and suites on a residential basis but cannot rent for periods of less than 28 days.

But under the proposals property managers of TA-zoned property will have to get a licence for each property, at an annual fee of $165.

There would also be a licence inspector who has the authority to refuse to grant a licence.

"The authority of a business licence inspector to refuse to issue a licence, or suspend or cancel a licence is provided for under the Local Government Act. However, ... it is proposed that Council would be the authority to suspend or cancel a licence with reasonable cause," the municipality states on its Web site.

The inspector could also demand detailed information about the property, such as the rental rates and rental periods.

"In cases where the licence inspector has reasonable grounds to believe a property marketing or vacation property rental operator is not complying with the bylaw, or another enactment, he/she many request information."

Originally draft bylaw changes stated that the licence inspector could demand the names and contact information of parties booking properties.

That has been eliminated from the proposed amendments.

The suggestion of these draft changes at a council meeting last month prompted a flurry of public criticism.

Some say it is their right to rent their properties to whomever they chose.

"Now that we’ve put Whistler on the map, some greedy politicians decided that its time to seize control over the rental market and erode property owners’ rights to the minimum," wrote M. Tang in a letter to Pique Newsmagazine after the meeting.

"Locals end up suffering in silence and driven out of town because of the short-term rental restrictions," wrote Kathy Emerson in another letter to the editor.

"It is starting to feel like a police state and that is very upsetting and stressful."

At the same time others living in residentially zoned neighbourhoods say the noise and the parties of vacationers who are in Whistler for a short time is too much to tolerate.

The municipality has been waging this war on illegal renters for several years now. Case in point is the Miller/Rivera case.

The Prince George dentists were taken to court by the municipality for renting out their home to co-workers and friends on a short-term basis.

A B.C. Supreme Court judge ruled in the municipality’s favour, prohibiting the couple from renting their home at Clifftop Lane for short periods of time.

The municipality then began to actively pursue property management companies, after a year’s grace period that would allow them to get their businesses in order.

Whistler Platinum, a local property management company, was caught renting residentially zoned properties for short-term leases. The company reached an amicable agreement with the municipality and willingly agreed to abide by the law after signing a consent order.

More recently, AlluraDirect.com was charged with facilitating the rental of properties not zoned for night rentals. The municipality held a show-cause hearing, which Allura representatives did not attend. The municipality then suspended Allura’s business licence.

The debate is coming to a head on the weekend.

The municipality will explain its proposed changes to the business bylaws in more detail on Saturday, Oct. 5 at the gym in the Myrtle Philip Community Centre from 3 to 6 p.m.

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