Update: The District of Squamish council unanimously adopted these fee changes at its regular business meeting on April 4.
For those who operate Airbnb-type rentals, there is a bit of pocketbook relief coming that may also encourage some folks who are operating them under the radar to become legit.
The District of Squamish plans to reduce some fees for short-term rental regulations, which monitor vacation rentals.
On March 21, District council unanimously passed the first three readings of a bylaw amendment that will reduce some fees related to short-term rentals (STR), paving the way for adoption at a later council meeting.
The changes include moving the date on which prorate fees begin from Aug. 1 to May 1, lowering the STR-specific renewal temporary use permit fee to $500, removing the utility fees for STRs in principal residences, and lowering the utility fees by $90 for STRs in secondary suites or carriage homes.
The changes come after some concerns were raised about the fees from vacation rental operators.
“During the year two STR program review, the main licensee concern was that STR licensing fees and utility charges are unreasonably high and were noted as a barrier to licensing compliance,” said Bryan Daly, a planner with the District. “In particular, principal residence license holders noted utility fees are especially high with some comparing the fees amount to a double charge.”
Additionally, staff previously presented to council a notable lack of compliance with STR regulations, as only 43% and 49% were in compliance in 2021 and 2022.
“We have heard from the community that we didn't quite hit the nail on the head with the fee structure, and so I think this is us being responsive to that,” said Coun. Jenna Stoner, speaking in favour of the motion.
“We may have some further work to do, I think in particular on the enforcement side and better understanding the pull and push in this file,” she continued. “But I think that this is a good step.”
The licensing fees for annual room or dwelling in a principal home or a non-principal residence will not change if operators hope to have that option for the whole year. Those costs will still be $300, $900 and $3,000.
However, operators can now get a prorated cost starting on May 1 for half equalling $150, $450 and $1,500. Operators can still also get a monthly license for their principal residence for $50 for a room or $150 for the whole dwelling.
Council asked if there was consideration by staff to prorate by month to which Daly said they tried but it proved to be challenging and would require more administration.
“We thought that prorating the annual business license was the most straightforward and also created the least amount of potential loopholes for people to exploit,” he explained.
For more information about the changes, view the March 21 council meeting at YouTube.com/@DistrictofSquamish or read the bylaw amendment from the council’s agenda.