iN COUNCIL: Vernon councillors debate Airbnb, weed, booze - InfoNews

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iN COUNCIL: Vernon councillors debate Airbnb, weed, booze

Vernon City Hall
May 28, 2019 - 11:43 AM

VERNON - Whether you're plagued with noise from partying Airbnb guests next door or are making a tidy profit letting out a second property, the fate of short term holiday rentals will remain the status quo in Vernon until next spring.

Vernon council voted unanimously at its May 27 meeting to start public and stakeholder consultations in the fall and for staff to produce a draft policy in the spring of 2020.

While council is unanimous that an Airbnb policy is needed, how to go about achieving it varied.

Coun. Brian Quiring suggested the City save staff time and expense and base Vernon's bylaws on other cities that have already done the research.

Vernon Mayor Victor Cumming disagreed.

"Vernon is an anomaly. If you look around Western Canada for a place this size with this type of economy, it doesn't happen."

The Mayor argued for a 'made in Vernon' solution and received the support of Coun. Scott Anderson.

"We've had significant complaints," Cumming said. "I think it's a significant issue."

Council did agree across the board that Airbnb should be on an equal playing field with hotels and seemed pleasantly surprised to hear provincial law meant short term holiday rentals now pay hotel tax. Staff also pointed out, that depending on the zoning of a property, unless the owner is staying at the property short term rentals are currently illegal in the city. The matter of bylaw enforcement was not brought up.

SECOND HIT FOR MARIJUANA

Vernon councillors decided to rekindle a decision made at its May 13 meeting, giving hope to the owners of a rejected cannabis store.

Council rejected its first of a dozen applications, deciding not to support the opening of a recreational cannabis store at 2813A 35 Street.

The mayor said new information had come to light and the matter will be back on the table at its next meeting. The Mayor previously voted against the pot shop. Although what this information is was not discussed the mayor called the new information "significant." Council agreed unanimously to review the application.

O'KEEFE MICROBREWERY

A proposed microbrewery at the Historic O'Keefe Ranch got a nod of approval from council, giving the Ranch the green light to begin to develop the venture. The City owns the land the Ranch is on, and as the landlord dictates what can and cannot be done at the site.

The City authorized the Ranch to use two of four plots to build a microbrewery. The land falls under the jurisdiction of the Agricultural Land Commission, which allows "primary farm products" to make alcohol, but doesn't consider hops within this category.


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