For those tired of hearing about short term rentals, Town of Gibsons-proposed bylaws introduce a new moniker: residential guest accommodation, or RGAs.
Updated draft regulations in three proposed Town bylaws would see two “streams” of RGA allowed: one for properties that have a principal resident and a category for properties where no one permanently resides. The proposal is to limit the number of units granted permission to operate in that second category and to phase that grouping out in two to five years.
At a special council meeting on June 14, Gibsons elected representatives adopted the recommendations for new RGA bylaws as proposed by staff and consultants Third Space Planning. They also made some adjustments. Those included asking that the evaluation plan for the new regime be developed within five months after bylaw adoption, requiring any RGA operator to respond to complaints within 30 minutes (rather than 45 as proposed by staff) and creation of an operator’s handbook.
A June 28 public hearing
First and second readings of three proposed and slightly amended bylaws were passed at the meeting, and public hearing scheduled. The opportunity for public comment has been scheduled for June 28, via Zoom at 5:30 p.m.
As the votes on the bylaw readings passed, Mayor Bill Beamish said that third reading and adoption may come forward during the current council term, but that decisions on the full implementation of the new rules, or not, would be up to the council elected this fall.
Proposed new rules
The proposed bylaws require all RGA operations to have a Town business licence and allow individuals but not companies to operate that type of enterprise. Only dwelling structures will be able to be licenced as RGA. RVs, yurts, tents or the like will not be considered as temporary accommodation units.The new rules will be subject to a five-month grace period, intended to minimize disruption to tourist accommodations during the 2022 summer season and allow time for Town staff to work with current operators and those interested in starting a RGA to ensure they understand the regulations. It will also allow Town staff to complete a rush of initial on-site inspections of RGA units currently in operation. The proposed new rules asked that all RGA sites be inspected and have a fire safety plan. During the meeting, concerns were expressed regarding the workload impacts of the inspection process for Town bylaw enforcement staff. With the current enforcement officer away from duty on leave, director of planning Lesley-Anne Staats noted that moving forward with the new bylaws will add urgency to the recruitment of a second officer. She reported that staffing action is underway as the second position was approved in the 2022 budget. The proposed full Gibsons Residential Guest Accommodation Policy, a 52-page document, which also details fines to be imposed for violations of the new rules is included in the June 14 meeting agenda package, which is available on gibsons.ca.
STR rules in other Coast areas
On Oct. 8, 2020 the Sunshine Coast Regional District board adopted zoning bylaw amendments on short-term rental accommodation, restricting those operations to properties where someone resides at the location. The District of Sechelt is in the process of considering changes to STR regulations in its jurisdiction.