The short-term rental of secondary suites and carriage houses by tourists in West Kelowna will be allowed in a reversal of course approved by city council. Such rentals are often made through online platforms such as Airbnb, whose company logo is shown here.

Secondary suites and carriage homes in West Kelowna homes will be opened to short-term rental by tourists, city council has decided.

It's a significant reversal of course based on what councillors heard at public hearing.

"We heard loud and clear that people want the right to rent their secondary suites and carriage houses for short-term rental," Coun. Doug Findlater said at a Tuesday meeting.

"I think it was a unified message from a variety of people," said Coun. Jayson Zilkie. "I think that we should move forward with allowing (short-term rental of) secondary suites and carriage houses."

West Kelowna bureaucrats had proposed the city follow Kelowna's lead and ban short-term rental of secondary suites and carriage homes. Such a ban, city officials argued, would preserve such properties for long-term rental by area residents.

But West Kelowna Mayor Gord Milsom disputed that  notion.

"It probably isn't the right thing to put the responsibility for long-term rental accommodation on the backs of secondary suite owners," Milsom said.

Coun. Rick de Jong was the only member of council who voted against allowing short-term rental of carriage houses and secondary suites for short-term rental on popular online platforms such as Airbnb.
He said the city had received a petition signed by many people opposed to such rentals. The petition was signed by many more people than the approximately 25 people who addressed council at the public hearing speaking in favour of such rentals, De Jong said.

Advocates of allowing short-term rental of secondary suites and carriage homes say it can provide a valuable revenue stream to homeowners and help them pay their mortgage. Critics say such rentals can introduce unwelcome noise and traffic into residential areas.
The potential for such noise and neighborhood upset could cause the city "a lot of grief" if the municipality doesn't now devise regulations to deal "with the rowdier crowd" that sometimes uses short-term rentals, Findlater said.