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Public hearing sparks more debate

Every person who spoke about short-term rentals at the recent town hearing in Sechelt was against the idea.

Every person who spoke about short-term rentals at the recent town hearing in Sechelt was against the idea.

"You are embarking on a process that is unprecedented in the province, even while other municipalities are going opposite ways," said Bob D'arcy on behalf of a group of residents in Sandy Hook.

"People move here for a quality of life. That quality of life will be threatened if you allow short-term rentals there is no shame in reconsidering or holding a referendum community by community."

Sechelt's mayor and councillors sat silently while about a dozen audience members made their objections known.Some were concerned the District of Sechelt staff would not be able to enforce short-term rental regulations once they are agreed upon by councillors.

Others questioned who is driving the councillors' agendas.

"Apparently this must be fiscal in nature. I can't think of any other reason you would want to go ahead with this," said Steve Yates, who spoke passionately against approving short-term rentals in Sechelt.

"I've asked you many times why you want to do this. It's about quality of life for me, which you know I hold dear I'd like to hear what you see as a benefit, what advantage allowing these things is to the community. It behooves you to justify it."

Councillors refused to respond to question. As Mayor Cam Reid said, "We are simply here to listen. This is a hearing."

One woman decided to spend her time at the microphone simply standing silent.

"There's no point in saying anything. You haven't listened since 1998, so I'm just going to spend my time standing here, thank you," she said to audience applause.

The hearing was meant to give community members a chance to voice their concerns over the zoning bylaw allowing short-term rentals in Sechelt, which is now sitting at first reading.

Director of corporate services for Sechelt, Joni Heinrich, said she expects the zoning bylaw to come back to council for second and third reading at their Nov. 17 meeting. The fourth reading and final adoption will be before councillors sometime in December.

Another component of the short-term rental bylaw is the business licensing aspect, which lays out the regulations for short-term rental owners.

Those regulations have not yet been totally agreed upon by councillors.

"We are still looking at issues of parking, density and pets," said Reid.

The regulations have been given first, second and third readings at the district and will be finalized and before council for fourth reading and final adoption sometime in December as well.