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'Stop party houses,' West Kelowna residents ask council

West Kelowna residents want to ensure more short term rentals aren't encouraged in their neighbourhood.
Image Credit: SUBMITTED/Peter Boyd
July 25, 2020 - 2:30 PM

Residents of a West Kelowna neighbourhood are frustrated with the shenanigans occurring at a number of short term rentals near their homes and today they took to the streets to get the city's mayor and council to pay attention to what’s happening.

“Many people are staying at these homes at any given time causing excess garbage, parking issues and ongoing noise. (There’s also) partying, foul language, nudity, barbecues thrown over the deck etc. day and night,” the group of frustrated neighbourhood residents said in a letter being handed out to those who stopped by the corner of Ridge Boulevard in Lakeview Heights today, July 25, where they set up shop.

There, carrying placards saying, “say no to short term rentals” and “stop party houses” the group asked that residents sign a petition they've also launched online.

It was an effort people were happy to sign-off on.

Organizer Sabina Zerwes said by the end of the morning they'd collected 220 signatures from neighbours who are increasingly on the same page in terms of frustration about what's happening to their quiet neighbourhood.

Together their aim is to get council to enforce its policy on short term rentals and better police the problem properties. Zerwes said there's concern among neighbours that the city will start allowing short term rentals and the issues that pre-exist will just get more intense.

"The fact is people have been complaining for years," Zerwes said. 

"One voice is not enough, we need everyone to push back, keep this bylaw in place and hire more bylaw officers and get the bylaw. We’re not happy — we  want the city to get active, we want bylaw officers to be active, this is not what we signed up for."

While Zerwes has long been aware of the issues, the stories she heard today while getting signatures cemented her view.

One area resident told her that one night the house near him had a grill go on fire, and the people in the house just threw it over the deck when they couldn't extinguish it. And an area realtor told her that the issue could damage real estate values.

“There are many prohibited Short Terms Rentals already operating in the City of West Kelowna,” Zerwes said.

 If and when Zoning Bylaw 0154 to licence Short Term Rentals goes before council, she and others want to be there to know that they think any sanctioning of the rentals will damage the safe, peaceful and quiet neighbourhoods people have made home.

Those lobbying to keep party houses out of the neighbourhood say there’s a difference between short-term rentals,  Bed and Breakfast locations, AgriTourism, resort townhomes, resort apartments and carriage homes are not prohibited.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Kathy Michaels or call 250-718-0428 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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