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The Sevens short-term rentals rejected by Golden council

Currently short-term rentals are permitted in areas zoned commercial, mostly in the downtown area
The company will continue to move forward with The Sevens project. (The Sevens)

An application for short-term rentals in the Selkirk Hill area has been denied.

On July 18, Town of Golden Council followed Director of Planning and Development Phil Armstrong’s recommendation to deny a request by the developers of The Sevens to amend the official community plan and zoning bylaw to permit short-term rentals.

Only Coun. Chris Hambruch supported The Sevens’ request, noting the site is well away from other homes and, in terms of road safety, the same traffic exists whether there are long-term or short-term residents. Other councillors aired the need for affordable housing options in the community and the possible negative effects homeowners could suffer by the presence of AirBnBs in their midst.

The company first applied for a development permit in August 2021. In January 2022, the town issued a permit for a multi-residential townhouse development at 1551 Bowle-Evans Drive as requested by company directors Gur Manhas, Tony Jaswal and Ryan Turner.

In his May 2, briefing note to council, Armstrong advised that on April 4, the developer had appeared at council to present a proposal for a site-specific rezoning to allow for “commercial” short term rentals. In return, the developer proposed to pay the Town of Golden $10,000 on the sale of each unit and collect an annual commercial tax equivalent payment of $1,500.

In his report to council on July 18, Armstrong said the the offer had been revised to a $340,000 (10,000 Per unit) amenity contribution.

Manhas says the offer also included a contribution of 15 percent of Phase 6 of Bear’s Paw Heights to be completed as affordable housing units.

In response to Golden Coun. Kristi Cooper’s comment at the July 18 council meeting that the developer should have submitted the request for short-term rentals at the beginning of the process, Hasman says company directors discussed the matter in private conversations and by email with the planning and development department prior to their August 2021 development permit application.

“At that time, we were told to abstain from applying for rezoning because of public sentiment and possible public backlash,” says Manhas, pointing out he believes council made their recent decision without having all the facts. “If we did apply for a zoning amendment, we were told the department would not be able to provide a staff report for council to make an unbiased decision.”

In general terms, Armstrong says the town underwent a significant planning process regarding the growth of AirBnBs and other online accommodation platforms and their listings between 2016 and 2020. The process involved hosting surveys and focus groups that included hoteliers, owners of traditional B&Bs, residential condos and AirBnBs, as well as members of the general public.

“Council/community have determined their position on this matter through strong, in-depth policy which was based on thorough public consultation,” wrote Armstrong in his July 18 report to council. The result was OCP amendment bylaw 1436, 2020, which was adopted two years ago and prohibits the rental of entire homes in residential areas as short-term rentals.

“There was a clear message that residential land is to remain residential and not allow short term rentals,” Armstrong says, pointing out R4 Residential zoned lands allow for higher density and more compact-built forms that allow for potentially more attainable homes.

That message was reinforced in nine letters expressing concerns about the lack of affordable housing and protesting short-term rentals at The Sevens the town received prior to the July 18 council meeting.

“There’s a desperate need for more rentals and housing,” wrote one individual. “Second homeowners do not keep the town running.”

“Part of the reason why there is a housing crisis in Golden with a lack of housing for staff is because so many people who rented long term in the past are now opting to do short term rentals instead, catering to tourists instead of allowing for people to live here,” opined another.

Currently in Golden, short-term rentals are permitted in areas zoned commercial, most particularly in the downtown area where they can provide additional accommodation to tourists.

Armstrong notes that the developer has a proven track record in the Town of Golden.

“This is not the first project they’ve done and things have gone very well. We look forward to seeing them build this residential development,” he says.

And Manhas says he values the working relationship the company has wth the town.

“We remain optimistic to be able to continue to work with the town on projects that we have in the pipeline,” he says, noting the company will continue to move forward with The Sevens project. “Being born and raised in Golden we have a lot of pride in what we do and want to continue to contribute positively to the community.”

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