A business licence that was issued by mistake, cancelled and then reinstated will end in the New Year after Sechelt council heard many nearby neighbours were opposed to the short-term rental operating at Wakefield Beach.
The issue first came up at council on Sept. 25 when the Zen Beach House owners were on hand. They told council they had the blessing of the surrounding strata owners to run their short-term rental on site and asked council to reinstate their short-term rental business licence.
The licence was issued by mistake in 2012 and was cancelled earlier this year by District staff after they realized the error.
Short-term rentals are only allowed in R1, R2 or R3 zones and Zen Beach House is located in the Wakefield strata development zoned CD7.
While Coun. Alice Lutes moved to uphold staff’s cancellation of the ill-placed business licence on Sept. 25, Coun. Darnelda Siegers said she wanted to see if another option was possible.
Coun. Mike Shanks reminded councillors short-term rentals were “a huge issue” in the past and that allowing the business to operate in a CD7 zone “flies in the face” of zoning hammered out through public consultation.
Coun. Doug Hockley noted that the District made the mistake in the first place by issuing the short-term rental business licence and council owed it to the proponent to try to help.
He moved that council give Zen Beach House a “grace period” while council tried to sort the issue out, reinstating the short-term rental business licence until Dec. 31.
All but Shanks and Lutes were in favour of the motion and it passed.
At the Oct. 16 council meeting the issue was back before council along with correspondence from six neighbours who opposed the short-term rental operation.
Nearby resident Bev Nielsen outlined her concerns in a delegation to council.
“I just want you to understand what it means to be in a multifamily unit with a short-term rental next door to you,” Nielsen said. “It’s very stressful, it’s loss of my quiet enjoyment of my property and when I bought Wakefield I didn’t think I was buying into a resort.”
After hearing about the negative impacts and reading a report on the issue from staff, Lutes moved to enforce the zoning bylaws, making the short-term rental illegal at Wakefield Beach.
Siegers asked that staff also look into possible “ambiguities” in the zoning bylaw that might imply short-term rentals are allowed in CD zones.
All were in favour of the motion.
Mayor John Henderson said Zen Beach House will be allowed to operate until the end of the year, but it will not have its business licence renewed in 2014.