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Letters: STR bylaw has been long promised – 2023 is not soon enough


The District of Sechelt recently moved one step closer to passing meaningful bylaws to regulate short term rental accommodations (STRs). For the many residents who have been plagued by this issue for decades, the changes can’t come soon enough. It was a focus during the 2018 election and councillors have acknowledged that reform is long overdue.

On the surface, the new proposals are encouraging. Making STRs more compatible with neighbourhoods was identified as the highest priority. The number of commercial (unhosted) operations would be capped at 30 and there would be a limit of six adults per rental unit.
Sechelt council remains opposed, however, to the universal requirement of onsite operators even though respondents to the 2020 survey favoured this policy by a ratio of 2:1. This is the most effective means of preventing problems. Capping the number of commercial licences will only be selectively successful unless the operations are located outside of our neighbourhoods.
According to the consultants, there were 249 STRs within the district in 2021 but only 97 had licenses.

Mayor Siegers insists that there were only 190 units but this data comes from AirDNA, which only lists rentals active during the past month. She advocated for 75 commercial licences instead of the 10 recommended by the consultant. Her approach is too permissive.

In April, Councillor Toth expressed a desire to have new bylaws in place before the end of 2021. Another round of public consultation is planned and the bylaws are not expected to be passed until at least June. The consultants have proposed a phase-in period of a year from the time the bylaws are adopted, ending as close as possible to the end of a calendar year. That would mean the close of 2023. Our citizens deserve better.

Richard Carton, Sechelt