On March 15, Sechelt council had its first opportunity to approve or deny a temporary use permit to short-term rental applications in unhosted secondary residences in the district.
Council was presented with five applications for a decision, and chose to approve four and decline one. The temporary use permits (TUPs) are for three-year terms and have the potential for a one-time renewal of up to another three years.
Six applications were received for Type 3 short-term rentals (STRs) that require a TUP. Using the decision-making matrix agreed upon by council, as well as public comments on the six applications, staff recommended council to approve five of six TUP applications. The application that was not recommended by staff due to neighbourhood concern about the number of STRs in proximity and parking constraints, for 7648 Sechelt Inlet Road, was withdrawn before the meeting.
TUPs were granted to short-term rentals at 5423 Selma Park, 5187 Chapman Road, 6274 Fairway Avenue (with three councillors opposed) and 5283 Sunshine Coast Highway.
An application for a TUP for a short-term rental at 6879 Sunshine Coast Highway was not approved by council. Coun. Donna Bell raised her concern based on the opposition of nine neighbours regarding that application. The matrix in the staff report notes, “Some of their concerns could be addressed in TUP conditions and business licences, but may result in calls for regular enforcement in this area.” Only Mayor John Henderson and Coun. Brenda Rowe were in favour.
When Coun. Rowe asked about misbehaviour related to a property with such a TUP, staff confirmed “nonconformity through land use does not guarantee you a business licence…” and the district can consider revoking a business licence if necessary among other methods of enforcement.
Coun. Dianne McLauchlan commented that she generally does not support Type 3 STRs, and that she does not find it endearing that many applicants that operated without the $125 business licences are now coming forward for licences (a point that was later echoed by several other council members). “I believe that many of them are doing it primarily because Type 3 STRs make them more money than people who have a long-term housing lease. We need the housing for people to live in more than anything, so that is my priority,” McLauchlan said.
Sechelt’s director of planning and development, Andrew Allen, told council that staff received nearly 30 applications for the nonconforming use of Type 3 short-term rentals. Sechelt council chose in February to offer Type 3 operators the option to skip applying for a TUP if they can prove their STR was lawfully operating before the adoption of the amended zoning bylaw in October 2022. Before that decision, the previous council had set a limit of 15 TUPs for Type 3 STRs. Review of those applications is ongoing, staff said, and more TUP applications may come forward as a result.