Directors hit pause on short-term rental bylaw

Those looking for closure from the Sunshine Coast Regional District on the short-term rental bylaw change debate will have to wait.

At an infrastructure committee meeting on Nov. 12, with several operators in the audience, directors decided against bringing the proposed short-term rental bylaw to the board for third reading until staff can provide a report that reviews implications of the new regulations.

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In their report on the issue, staff had recommended the bylaw be brought to the board for third reading, but that prior to adoption of the bylaw, staff create an implementation plan, which would include a strategy for temporary use permits (TUP) – a new requirement for offsite operators.  But issues around the TUP requirement as well as enforcement surfaced during discussion, prompting directors to tackle those issues before going to third reading.

Chair Lori Pratt referenced concerns raised at the public hearing about party houses, and took issue with the associated implementation costs of TUPs, as well as how STRs could impact neighbourhoods and the local economy. “I worry about the sense of community we have, I worry about the significant amount of investment our hotels put into keeping their business going throughout the whole year,” she said.

Both Elphinstone director Donna McMahon and Roberts Creek director Andreas Tize opposed TUPs outright.

“Overall, a TUP is detrimental to what we want in our community,” said Tize, “and that’s who I’m here to represent, and not necessarily the commercial interests of the tourism industry.”

McMahon suggested the “best option right now is to back right off and disallow STRs without a resident property owner.” She also said she would prefer to see enforcement addressed before moving ahead. “Right now what we have is a reactive bylaw enforcement system, so it’s complaint driven,” she said.

Tize made a motion for staff to update the bylaws to effectively scrap TUPs, but that motion failed. Instead, directors voted for staff to “bring forward ... implementation implications for temporary use permits for short-term rental accommodation and ... the impacts on bylaw enforcement to facilitate such implementation.”

Tize opposed the motion.

Both the Town of Gibsons and District of Sechelt are in the process of reviewing their short-term rental bylaws. “We’re watching with interest whatever happens here, because whatever happens here will impact us in the municipalities,” said Sechelt director Darnelda Siegers.

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