Town of Gibsons’s short-term rental bylaws have cleared their last major hurdle.
Council passed third reading of the Town's residential guest accommodation regulating bylaws at the July 12 regular council meeting.
Once the regulations are adopted they’ll be in effect but there’ll be a grace period until January, staff told council.
The new regulations would allow short-term rentals that are in principal residences, including renting out an entire dwelling if the principal resident leaves on vacation for up to three consecutive months in a calendar year. (Those months could be October, November, December and January, February, March, pointed out Beamish.)
The regulations would also phase out short-term rentals in dwellings that are not principal residences over the next few years, requiring those operations to get temporary use permits in the near-term. Instead of allowing rampant short-term rentals, the Town is to encourage the development of commercial tourist accommodations, but with proposed accommodations still years off, they’re allowing unhosted short-term rentals to avoid a negative “shock” to tourism accommodation. The specific number of unhosted operations to be allowed isn’t yet set, but the recommendation from the consultant on this project is to allow 50, director of planning Lesley-Anne Staats told council. Short-term renting of boats, RVs, tents, yurts and the like will not be allowed.
When summarizing last month’s public hearing, Staats said that the response was split – half in favour, half not. In the opposition category, people who don’t live in Gibsons but own second homes here want to be able to come back and enjoy their homes, want the flexibility of short-term rentals, Staats conveyed. There were also comments from people saying they would never rent out their guest cottages to long-term residents as well as comments pointing to the need to support tourism.
Comments in favour of the regulations were generally unanimous, said Staats, in supporting prioritizing housing for Gibsons residents, protecting neighbourhood character and avoiding party houses.
Council thanked staff for their work on this file.
“This has been brutally painful for everyone,” said Coun. David Croal. “Our first public hearing [in 2020] on the initial bylaw was a bit like an orchestra of scorched cats.”
“This needs a standing ovation, because I think you've covered the bases in a fair manner. And you've provided the commercial environment an opportunity to fill the void that potentially might be created with elimination of some of the types of rental.”
Croal also pointed to the disappointment of allowing infill housing and discovering it isn’t being used the way it was intended.
Depending on the season, there are 80 to 100 short-term rental listings in the municipality, according to the residential guest accommodation policy.