(This is an abbreviated version of a letter written to the Valemount Housing Committee which was submitted to Council for information).

Through my property management business, I receive calls and emails regularly from out-of-area investors seeking information on purchasing existing housing stock in Valemount to repurpose as short-term vacation rentals.

Property investors are overwhelmingly seeking out short-term vacation rental opportunities over standard residential tenancies, and this will pose an increased strain on the already short supply of rental housing available for community residents.

Out-of-area property ownership for personal vacation home use is also rising and there is a loss of rental housing in the village. For example, most of the former subsidized housing units have been sold to non-residents, and tenants who were in those units have needed to find alternate housing.

It is difficult to convince an investor that providing affordable housing for community residents needs to be the area’s priority over adding hotel rooms for tourists. They believe they could make a fortune turning an existing home into tourist accommodation without living in the building or even the community. There are no vacation rental management businesses in the area that can service this type of property. Whisper Creek developers only manage their own clients, in their own subdivision, catering to a specific clientele that can afford that type of accommodation.

Long-term rentals can provide a more stable and equivalent level of income for a property owner, yet the prospect of making ‘big bucks’ from vacation rentals persists.

I receive rental inquiries from people that are trying to relocate here to fill job vacancies and/or create a life in our community. I often have nothing to offer them and on several occasions they don’t move here as a result. Local businesses are unable to develop or expand due to the housing shortage for their staff. Losing more residential lots to short-term vacation rentals will only add to this obstacle.

We already have very strong guidelines for short-term vacation rentals. I hope that Council refers to these rules, as well as the housing needs of the community, when reviewing any variance or temporary use permit applications. Bylaw enforcement for this should be proactive rather than complaint-based and all short term vacation rentals should be treated as hotels with the same requirements for cleanliness, security and taxation. I would even go further to suggest that no variances or temporary use permits be issued for residential lots in the core of the village. It is one way to protect our residential areas for residents.

Jen Applebaum

Valemount BC