Off the market

An illustration of an Osoyoos vacation rental that is no longer permitted to operate.

Party time is over at a vacation rental in Osoyoos that had become a major irritant to neighbours.

The board of the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen this week voted to deny a permit required for the house at 3829 37th St. to continue operating as a short-term rental.

Directors heard the four-bedroom house on the east side of Osoyoos Lake began serving as a short-term rental last year in rural Area A – about 100 metres from town limits – but it wasn’t until neighbours complained to the RDOS that the owners sought the required temporary use permit.

“As we have witnessed in the subject property over the last year, groups of people show up for several days, are generally loud, often behave unpleasantly, and have little, if any, concern or respect for the neighbours and the neighbourhood in which they are temporarily residing,” neighbours David Ryan and Donna White wrote in one of a dozen letters of opposition sent to the board.

Property manager John Redenbach told the board ahead of its decision that opponents are being led by just a few neighbours who have no evidence of guests actually being a nuisance.

“We had a couple problems, but nothing serious. There was no police reports or anything serious that happened. At the end of the summer we did hear there was some grumbling from neighbours, so this year when we started booking we made sure it was all families,” said Redenbach.

“They’re driving Lexuses and BMWs and they are good people. They’re not here to cause problems. They are here to put money into the community and go back home and continue on with their careers in Vancouver and Calgary and the likes.”

Redenbach went on to argue residents of this region should expect, and welcome, vacation rentals.

“It is a little bit of living in the Okanagan and this economy that does exist, and it’s only for two months. It’s July and August, and if you run it responsibly and respectfully, it can work out well for everyone. It brings vitality and economics to the community,” he said.

RDOS staff recommended in favour of the temporary use permit, but Mark Pendergraft, the director for Area A, convinced colleagues to vote against it.

“It has operated already for a year, and in spite of what the manager is saying, that there hasn’t been any legitimate complaints, there has been. There’s been at least two that have come to the regional district and that’s why there’s an application before us,” said Pendergraft.

“And aside from that, I’m not sure the location is the most appropriate for a vacation rental.”

RDOS chair Karla Kozakevich noted the board has made a practice of permitting vacation rentals for a year to let the owners prove themselves, but said the trial run in Osoyoos had already failed, in part because there isn’t a noise bylaw in that rural area.

The homeowners, who can reapply for the permit, are required to immediately cease operating the property as a rental or face action under RDOS bylaws.