A home owner had a vacation rental application rejected for a second time by Revelstoke council on Tuesday.
John and Heather Pallas re-applied to legalize their vacation rental at 2297 Airport Way after it was previously rejected on May 10, 2016.
Despite being turned down, the vacation rental continued to be advertised over the winter and was being managed by Revelstoke Vacation Rentals, which is co-owned by councillor Scott Duke.
At their meeting on Tuesday, March 14, council turned it down again before it got to a public hearing.
“This whole process in my mind for better of for worse is designed to solicit neighbourhood input, but I don’t think there’s a good argument it’s going to change,” said councillor Aaron Orlando.
Back in May, Stan & Nadine Smith, who live next door to the home, led the opposition to the vacation rental, complaining about noise and parking. They rallied opposition, including from people living up the hill on Shiell Road. Ten neighbours on Airport Way and several people on Shiell Road signed forms opposing the application.
“They’re paying $800 per night to stay there,” Nadine Smith told council at the time. “Trust me, they’ll do what they want. They’re going to feel they have the right because they’re paying the price.”
In May, council listened to the opposition and turned down down the application. That prompted Eve Northmore, who runs Revelstoke Vacation Rentals alongside Duke, to write a letter to council asking them to-reconsider their decision.
She said there was only one incident with bad renters at that home last winter, that the complaints were being driven by one neighbour, and that, “It is by most accounts an ideal example of a vacation rental and I blame only myself for not arguing this accurately and by letting one group who made a poor choice slip through our system.
“We will be speaking with the owners of 2297 Airport way and trying our best to convince them to put up another $1,800 and re-apply because we know how important it is that our illegal vacation rentals become licensed and controlled through our bylaws,” Northmore added.
The Pallases did re-apply and their new application went to council last week. A staff report from Chris Selvig, the City of Revelstoke’s assistant planner, stated, “The potential impacts of the subject vacation rental are limited to some degree by the large size of the parcel and the siting of the home further back on the subject property.”
He added staff received a complaint in December that the vacation rental remained in use and continued to be advertised online.
“If council does not support the application proceeding, the owners would be notified and the file would be closed,” wrote Selvig. “The owners would be required to discontinue operating the vacation rental. They would also be requested to submit a letter indicating the subject property would no longer be advertised nor utilized for vacation rental use.”
Counil voted against it, with only couns. Trevor English and Connie Brothers voting in support of going to a public hearing.
Mayor Mark McKee delivered a mixed message about the application. He voted against it, but before doing so he re-stated his position that vacation rentals would be tolerated if they were in the process of legalizing.
“Our attitude at city hall is we want illegal vacation rentals going through the process. This couple disagreed with council’s decision and they waited and re-applied,” he said. “As far as I’m concerned, my attitude is if people are in the queue and they are going through the process, they should be able to operate.”
After the meeting, I asked the mayor to justify his comments. What kind of message was he sending by saying that vacation rentals could keep operating after being turned down by council just because they re-applied?
“I guess when it got turned down in May I didn’t know it was running all summer long. It’s applied again, it’s in the queue. When they’ve applied again, should they be allowed to keep running?” he said. “If council does accept an application and it goes to a public hearing and gets turned down, it’s made commitments to people that are coming here. It’s being business friendly, it’s being a resort community and it’s making sure we’re not disrupting people’s plans. At a certain point it’s going to come to an end.”
When I pointed out the application was first rejected in May, giving people plenty of time to re-book, McKee said he was unaware it was still operating.
“I guess if somebody has asked me in June and July — this one is still operating – that’s not right and that’s not fair, that’s not the way it’s supposed to be,” he said. “We’re going to have a lot more clarification when council makes some hard decision based on a report coming back to council.”
I also noted this was a vacation rental being run by coun. Duke’s company. Duke was blasted in council chambers last month for operating several illegal vacation rentals. McKee said he raised the issue with Duke and that it was a “topic of discussion that is ongoing.”
“It’s not over. We’re going to come to a resolution,” said McKee.
Another application for a secondary suite vacation rental on Hay Road was deferred until new zoning is brought forward to govern partial-home vacation rentals.