An angry Gary Starling rips Council over vacation rentals

City Council was treated to a tongue-lashing from former Councillor Gary Starling and a gale of anger from Revelstokians upset by two of the latest vacation rental applications. Rightly or wrongly, some of that anger was directed squarely at Councillor Scott Duke and his company, Revelstoke Vacation Rentals. David F. Rooney photo

By David F. Rooney

City Council was treated to a tongue-lashing from former Councillor Gary Starling and a gale of anger from Revelstokians upset by two of the latest vacation rental applications.

There’s nothing special about the property at 305 Fourth Street West. It’s a two-storey house similar to scores of others in Revelstoke but it’s on a very narrow lot and its owner, who lives in Australia, thinks he can have parking for three cars in the backyard off the alley. Please click on the combo image to view it in a larger format. Images courtesy of the City of Revelstoke

Rightly or wrongly, some of that anger over a vacation rental application for 305 Fourth Street East was directed squarely at Councillor Scott Duke and his company, Revelstoke Vacation Rentals during a public hearing on Tuesday afternoon, February 14.

“It’s disturbing to me that several vacation rentals are operating without going through due process, licensing and inspection,” Starling said (You can watch Gary’s 12-minute commentary comments beginning at the 10:29 point on the video marked Part 1 below). “In this case it’s even more disturbing as the house in question is being operated by a company that is run by a City Councillor. For me, this shows that this Councillor has no respect or concern for the bylaws he is expected to uphold.”

Starling grew increasingly angry as his comments went on.

“From my point of view Councillor Duke seems to think this is a lawless state,” Starling said. “I can’t for the life of me figure out he can justify operating in this fashion and still be effective on Council.”

Mayor Mark McKee explained that illegally operated vacation rentals were encouraged to participate in the public hearing process in hopes of being legitimized.

Duke was not present to hear Starling’s scathing remarks. He had, as Council rules dictated, recused himself from all discussions that would appear to place him in a conflict of interest. However, his partner, Property Manager Eve Northmore, did make a presentation to Council on behalf of their company. (You can watch her presentation beginning at the 31:47 point in the video below).

Northmore said owner Richard Grady is a New Zealand airline airline pilot currently living in Manley, New South Wales, Australia.

“He is not a complete stranger to the community,” she said, notung he had lived here at one time and that he wants to return. In the meantime, he has been renting out his property, which she said “really lent itself” to being rented to periods oe one to five months.

There’s nothing remarkable the property. 305 Fourth Street East is virtually identical to scores of other late 19th and early 20th century two-storey houses in town and, indeed, thousands across Canada. It has three bedrooms and sits on a 37-foot-wide lot backing onto a standard unpaved and — more importantly — unplowed alley. There is no driveway and all parking is on the street.

He was not alone, several of the 31 people who attended the hearing echoed many of Starling’s complaints.

“…the proposed parking plan is not realistic and not adequate for a lot of that size. As pointed out by the immediate neighbours at 301 Fourth Street East, cars are being parked on 4th Street East and MacArthur despite regulations stating all vehicles be parked off -street. In winter, parking is already difficult as it is, so this regulation has to be adhered to. In this case, it has not and cannot be with the small area out back of the property.

“A hot tub has been installed 2 feet from the neighbour’s property line and has presented noise issues. Can you imagine trying to raise a young family adjacent to a party place with absentee owners? In our opinion, this is unacceptable.

“The owner of this property is operating a vacation rental without a license, even after being informed by the city to cease operation on Dec 30, 2016.”

There were many more comments, both verbal (watch them on the video) and written (Please click here to read them). The overwhelming majority of them were so negative that Council swiftly voted to deny the application.

2 COMMENTS

  1. Kudos to you ex-councillor Starling. We are in the same stable on this one which was not always the case when we served on council together.
    However, for what it’s worth, I’m pleased to see you have raised the issue of questionadle optics regarding Councillor Duke. In my opinion there is doubt as to wether he is in legal conflict or simply exhibiting some questionable optics. He does recuse (silly word for excuse) himself from discussion on vacation rentals.
    I believe the crux of matter lies with Mayor Mcke and the rest of council.
    Now that you have broached the subject again, I harken back to more that a year ago when, in this forum and on the Mayor’s Report on E Z Rock, I asked the Mayor if he planned an investigation into this potential conflict. Four times the answer was the same. No. Why? Because this is a bylaw situation and we don’t act on it unless there is a filed complain. Other words, enforcement is complaint driven and the councillor does step out of the chamber whenever it comes up.
    Yes, I was glad to see, finally, proper licensing for vacation rentals but the question of conflicting interests remains.

    Keep the faith Gary.

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