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Short Term Rentals in the Town of Golden

STR-image.jpgThe Town of Golden is continuing to study potential new rules for Short Term Rentals (STRs), often referred to as Bed and Breakfasts (B&Bs), Airbnbs, vacation rentals, and even home sharing.  STRs refer to the accommodation rental of a private residence whether a few rooms (a B&B) or an entire house (a vacation rental), for a period of less than 30 nights, for which the guest compensates the owner (or lessee) of the unit.

Historical and Current Regulations
For decades, the Town of Golden’s Zoning Bylaw has allowed B&Bs to operate as an accessory use in a single detached dwelling. No rezoning application is required and breakfast does not have to be served, despite our traditional expectation of this type of STR.
However, an application for a business license is required and some of the regulations include that the owner resides in the home; a maximum of three guest rooms are offered; onsite parking requirements must be met (2 parking stalls for the home and 1 parking stall for each guest room); increased water and sewer fees apply; and small sign is permitted (0.25 square metres). 
Also, prior to the issuance of a business license an inspection will be conducted to confirm that general life safety items such as guard rails, handrails, fire extinguishers, smoke and CO detectors, garage door self-closers, weather stripping, and appropriate means of egress are present.
Remember - if you are operating a B&B it is your responsibility to apply for a Business License.  The costs:

1. Annual Business Licensee of $70.00
2. Annual Water and Sewer Utility Charges.

 3. Other implications may include additional third party insurance costs and GST if revenue exceeds $30K.

The 2008 Official Community Plan has an objective to encourage vacation rentals in commercial areas, and prohibit them in residential neighbourhoods except Canyon Ridge in an effort to preserve long-term rental housing stock.  Vacation rentals were not introduced in the 2011 Zoning Bylaw.

Recent Trends
STRs represent a globally sought and valid market for travelers. Times have changed and millions of people want more authentic accommodation experiences not afforded by the traditional hotel model.  In our minds, banning this obviously important market force would be counter intuitive and unnecessarily meddling with the free market. Having said this, some form of fair and equitable regulation that fits the community should be in place, because of their real and potential influences to communities including challenges such as, neighbourhood impacts (noise, parking, loss of community feel), impact on rental housing stock, erosion of the commercial core, and increased water and sewer use. On the other hand, community benefits include additional local wealth creation source for residents, authentic cultural experiences, and perhaps using existing homes that would be vacant or otherwise under-occupied more efficiently.

Websites such as Airbnb and Vacation Rental by Owner (VRBO) as well as smart phones have made it easier to operate an STR. The Town is aware that over the last couple years many unlicensed STRs have started up in both the Town and Area A. Numerous communities are facing this disruptor, have been grappling with similar policy questions, and have found their STR regulations difficult to enforce and controversial if not either carefully thought out or not having the buy-in from the sector.

Next Steps
Staff and Council began discussing this topic last summer. Due to the sheer magnitude of the issue, work priorities, and a want to learn from other communities, Council directed staff to re-examine the Town’s B&B and STR regulatory regime in 2017 and 2018. Our goal is to have new regulations in place by the end of the year.
Our intent is to create a fair, non-burdensome and enforceable regulatory structure that meets the community’s expectations developed with the help from both those currently operating STRs and those that simply want them regulated.
It is important to understand that any eventual regulatory framework we put in place will set the stage for things like density, location, behaviour and fees. What the Town has no control over is consumer tax collection. Collection of consumptive taxes such as PST, GST, and MRDT (Hotel Tax) are not within our authority, but that of the provincial and federal governments. These are separate issues that the industry needs to grapple with and we are powerless to direct, leaving us simply to lobby these higher authorities for tax equality like everyone else.
We have heard from Golden Tourism and a few community members that this is an important issue and we are listening. As this issue is complex, we want to ensure that we are doing things right instead of doing things fast. As staff brings this topic back to the Council table for more discussion and consideration, we will keep the community informed on this page.

Future Public Consultation
Stay tuned for a future public consultation process in the coming months.  We are looking forward to having a discussion with everyone involved in this matter and coming up with a “made in Golden” solution for it that we can all live with.
Questions, comments, or want to be included in future public consultation processes? 
Contact and tell us about your experience with STRs.  
Relevant documents