City considers annual STR unit license fees
By Nowell Berg
On August 16, City of Kimberley council held its regular bi-monthly meeting.
Councillors Kyle Dalum, Kent Goodwin, Nigel Kitto, Jason McBain, Darryl Oakley and Sandra Roberts were present along with Mayor Don McCormick.
The press and public were not allowed in Council Chambers.
The meeting streamed live on the city’s YouTube channel. Watch the archive here.
Kimberley RCMP Report
He identified three areas of focus for the detachment during the next year. They include, traffic enforcement and road safety, police visibility and engagement, and mental health strategies. These areas were mapped out in conjunction with the mayor and council.
Regarding mental health, Sgt. Woodcox said, “We’ve been very successful working with Interior Health (IH). They were very supportive from the onset.” IH provides a mental health clinician or nurse to work with the RCMP when a person in mental distress “may need more attention than the police can provide.”
The results from this initiative, mental health calls have dropped from 37 to 18 over the past year.
“I’ve definitely seen the change [regarding mental health distress calls], it’s been very positive,” said Woodcox.
Over the reporting period, total calls for service were 497 compared to 484 in 2020. Seventy-one traffic tickets were issued and six road checks were conducted.
“Impaired driving continues to be a problem,” said Sgt. Woodcox. He noted that 23 impaired driving charges were laid compared to 13 the year before. He pointed out that the public plays a role in “reporting” impaired drivers.
Short-Term Rental Bylaw & Business License
City planner Justin Cook presented results from a Short-Term Rental (STR) survey and best practices review as part of the public engagement process to implement a short-term rental Bylaw and business license.
The purpose of the STR survey was “to better understand resident and STR operator perspectives” regarding licensing and compliance.
The community survey received 369 responses which included 83 owner/operators of STRs. The remaining respondents were residents. The full report to council is available from the city.
With housing availability and affordability a big concern for council and the mayor, residents reflected that indicating their major concerns about STRs include “impacts to housing affordability, reductions to the long-term rental stock, and real estate price inflation.”
After a “best practices” review of how 15 other municipalities handle STR Bylaws and fees, city staff have proposed a $300 per annum per STR unit license fee.
Coun. Goodwin ask if the fee would cover increased admin costs.
Troy Pollock, Manager of Planning and Sustainability, said that based on current estimates it would be adequate. If the initial fee did not cover costs then it would be adjusted in the future. Determining how many STR units exist in the city, Pollock said getting an exact number would be difficult, however, he reported there were “over 230 [STR] listings online.”
Coun. McBain supported the Bylaw and noted it would be “a lot of change [implementing the Bylaw],” but added, “Its a decent amount of time for people to get up to speed.”
Commencement and enforcement of the STR Bylaw would begin in January 2022 with a public education program to begin shortly after council adopts the bylaw.
COVID-19 Community Restart Grants
Council approved an amendment to the COVID-19 Safe Restart Community Grant.
Program Policy that allows the city to disperse up to $100,000 of “unspent and uncommitted” provincial grant money. Should this money be available in January 2022, then the city will undertake a grant program to help “local non-profit organizations that serve vulnerable populations” that were severely impacted by COVID-19.
Pam Walsh, Manager of Community Development and Communications, told council that “vulnerable populations means economically disadvantaged or otherwise vulnerable individuals including seniors, children, or individuals with disabilities.”
Any non-profit applying for a grant must provide financial statements to prove “need.” The maximum grant for each group would be $10,000.
Kimberley city council meets twice monthly starting at 7 p.m. Due to pandemic restrictions, the public is not allowed to attend Council Chambers.
The next scheduled council meeting is September 27, which is the only meeting that month. It will be live-streamed on the City of Kimberley YouTube channel.
e-KNOW file photos