A public hearing on regulating short term rentals will be held Feb. 14. (File photo)

A public hearing on regulating short term rentals will be held Feb. 14. (File photo)

COVID postpones in-person public meeting on Summerland short term rentals

Public hearing on regulating rentals postponed to Feb. 14 and held virtually

You can spend Valentine’s Day participating in a public hearing on short-term rentals in Summerland.

At the Jan. 10 meeting, council agreed to postpone the Jan. 24 scheduled in-person public hearing and to make it a virtual meeting on Monday, Feb. 14.

District staff made the request to cancel the in-person portion of the public hearing “in light of the emerging COVID situation.” It was to take place at the Summerland Banquet Hall.

But not every councillor was in favour of just hosting the hearing virtually.

“This is a very important subject and the public needs to be in attendance for this,” said Coun. Doug Patan.

He asked if the hearing could be delayed until in-person meetings could take place again.

“With the rapidly progressing COVID situation, we have no idea when we can do public hearings in person again,” said Brad Dollevoet, Summerland’s director of development services.

“The administration’s goal is to get short-term regulations implemented before the tourism season begins in April-May,” he added.

Currently, short-term rentals are not regulated in Summerland. It was in 2017 when Penticton started regulating short-term rentals.

At that time, Airbnb and other home-sharing services like VRBO had created a huge underground economy. According to a report from Anthony Haddad, director of planning services, there were 222 listings on Airbnb in the Penticton area, 76 per cent renting the entire dwelling and 23 per cent renting out a room in their dwelling.

At the Nov. 22, Summerland council meeting, JoAnn Peachey, a planner with the development services department, presented comments received after earlier public engagement about short-term rentals. A total of 547 people participated in a survey in fall, 36 attended an open house and six provided written submissions.

According to the survey, 55 per cent of all respondents generally agree with allowing short-term rentals in the community.

READ MORE: Mixed emotions on regulating short term rentals in Summerland

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