Mayor Megan Hanson (front) with councillors, from left, Tim Mearns, Jas Payne, Kjeryn Dakin, Kendall Kloss, Teresa Rilling and Graham Parsons. Reeti Meenakshi Rohilla / Sylvan Lake News

Mayor Megan Hanson (front) with councillors, from left, Tim Mearns, Jas Payne, Kjeryn Dakin, Kendall Kloss, Teresa Rilling and Graham Parsons. Reeti Meenakshi Rohilla / Sylvan Lake News

Town council passes tourist home bylaw

Updates are also made to bylaws for fees and charges and land use for tourist homes

Sylvan Lake town council granted a third reading of the Short-Term Accommodation Rental (STAR) Licensing Bylaw 1842/2021 during the April 25 council meeting.

The new bylaw aims to simplify the licencing application process by providing more opportunities for other dwelling types, making requirements clearer, respecting adjacent property owners and working with STAR hosts for compliance without heavy-handed penalties, stated the agenda.

The previous bylaw would restrict occupancy to five bedrooms while excluding rental of secondary and garage suites. The new bylaw allows two adults per bedroom. There are no limitations on children under the age of 18 or the number of bedrooms being rented. The new bylaw also allows rentals for all dwelling types.

The new bylaw has eliminated the requirement for physical health and fire inspections and replaced it with a self-evaluation attestation of the health and life safety requirements for the STARs.

The application processing time has also been reduced from a maximum of 12 weeks to just two weeks.

Administration consulted with the tourism department, fire department, municipal enforcement, RCMP, and Alberta Health Services in preparation of the bylaw.

Administration is proposing further amendments to address confusion around the demerit point system. The demerit system allows the town a means of issuing a warning instead of being heavy-handed with fines, they said.

As housing affordability increasingly becomes a concern in many communities, STARs provide homeowners with the much-welcomed income-generating potential and an alternative to lodging options for tourists.

A review of STARs operating in town revealed there are approximately 142 properties listed on various booking platforms with only 21 licensed with the town.

The council also granted a third reading of Bylaw 1851-2022 Land Use Bylaw (LUB) Tourist Home Amendments.

In association with the introduction of the STAR Licensing Bylaw, council supported the removal of the existing regulations for tourist homes from the LUB and that regulate STARs entirely through business licensing.

“All considerations for tourist homes formally dealt with in the LUB are proposed to be regulated through the new STAR bylaw which will be a more effective, efficient way to ensure operators are complying with the established standards,” stated the agenda.

Bylaw 1850/2022, an amending bylaw to the Fees and Charges Bylaw 1833/2021, was also granted third reading.

This bylaw was brought into force to consolidate the fees and charges of various bylaws.

The STAR licensing bylaw requires a schedule to the bylaw to address application and license fees.

Council chose the second proposed option for STARs including a $250 application fee, $300 license fee for occupancy of one to three sleeping units and $450 license fee for occupancy of four or more sleeping units.