Councillors in Gibsons are waiting for a staff report before considering a couple of proposed changes to the process for permits covering some Development Permit Areas (DPA) that came out of the debates over the approval of the George Hotel and Residences project.
The idea of having a qualified professional to provide an opinion on whether or not a peer review of any work being done under DPA 1 (geotechnical) and DPA 2 (environmentally sensitive areas) and of giving the public a chance for input on DPAs that are issued by staff under delegated authority and not subject to a council vote, has been brought forward twice already at committee.
And on June 16 the planning and development committee recommended staff “report back to the committee on the implications” of the proposed amendments – a recommendation that went to council June 24.
Suzanne Senger of the group Gibsons Alliance of Business and Community told council she was frustrated with yet another request for a report.
“How long are we going to keep kicking this issue down the road?” she asked during the public inquiries period at the June 24 meeting. “It’s been an ongoing conversation for a long time. The DPA guidelines lack specificity and that whole issue has caused a great deal of conflict and concern for years. “
Mayor Bill Beamish said he was not concerned about timing because there aren’t any development proposals coming forward that would be affected.
Coun. Annemarie De Andrade moved to add a third possible amendment for staff to research, a requirement to have developers working under a DPA 1, 2 or 9 (aquifer) post security deposits, bonds or “other mechanisms of insurance against liability.”
A group of community members raised the same issue in 2019, asking council to require a $20 million bond from the George developer “to shield the Town from costs if a catastrophic event should occur to our aquifer.”
Beamish said he felt it would be worthwhile for council to consider the amendments.
“Our bylaws are 10 years old and a lot has changed in those 10 years, so I’m comfortable looking to see how we can do things consistent with best practices today.”
Gibsons council has given first and second readings to a new bylaw on short-term rentals, but it’s not going to consider changing the name for accommodations booked through services like Airbnb.
In a written inquiry a resident asked June 24 whether council would consider calling them something else because “short-term rental is a discriminatory description that does not match up with the type of business… It is frequently used as part of a derogatory narrative that incorrectly blames these small owner/operators as contributing to market rental rate increases with zero data to back up this assertion.”
Although Coun. Aleria Ladwig said she thought the person might have a valid point, there was no appetite on council to change the terminology.
The new bylaw would put short-term rentals and traditional bed and breakfasts in the same category and require business licences for operators. It would also require the host to remain on site during guest stays.
An “electronic public hearing” is schedule for 5:30 pm on July 14.