At a January council meeting, short-term rental operators objected to an increase in licensing fees, asking they be tabled until further discussion could take place.
That hasn’t happened, but operators have been given an extension to pay the increased fees.
The fee has been increased to $325 per room, an increase of $207, and licensed owners are angry the hike was approved for this year’s budget without any consultation, and with little notice. The decision was made in December, with the new fees due by Jan. 31.
The increase is to cover the cost of two bylaw officers to deal with problems and complaints regarding short-term rentals, such as noise and parking. But licensed owners have said they are being punished for issues that are created by unlicensed establishments, and that they have no way of knowing the extent or number of complaints.
In order to lessen the burden of the increase, council asked staff to consider allowing the fees to be paid over two instalments for 2020, and that the fees be reviewed for 2021.
In a report to the planning committee Monday, a staff report said Jan. 31 “may not be reasonable for many operators who experience less bookings during the off-season.”
But splitting the invoices into two instalments “would be difficult to administer, especially considering the invoices have been issued and some operators have already paid.”
However, staff have agreed to waive the penalty on any outstanding invoices until July. This means that operators will now have until June 30 to pay their fees, the report said.
At Monday’s planning committee meeting, Coun. Allan Bisback thanked staff for reviewing council’s request. He asked for information that would indicate how many of the 400 short-term rental operators had already paid their fee, and also requested individual operators be told of the extension.