Sechelt needs to update both the regulations for short-term rentals (STRs) and zoning. Allowing a commercial business to operate in a single-family-zoned area should never have been allowed. STRs are growing rapidly on the Coast and gone are the days when a family rented out a suite in their house for visiting guests to make a little extra cash. Today the game has changed and the potential of taking in excess of a thousand a night for your property is challenging the long-term rental alternative.
While most of the letters regarding STRs have focused on the problems with “party houses” there are other considerations that are equally as important. What about the negative impact on the sale value of homes on either side of the STR? Would you knowingly buy a single-family home next door or across the road from a “hotel”? We purchased a home in a quiet Sechelt neighbourhood zoned “single family” 16 years ago. Since then the house next door has become a busy STR with room advertised for up to eight guests and two dogs. Without some significant and immediate changes to the rules on STRs we suspect that it will significantly lower the resale value of our home.
Any revised regulations being considered must require the owners to live on site. This will eliminate the “party house” complaints.
Another consideration for council is water usage. Every two or three days the “hotel” has to wash all the towels and bedding for up to eight people. Think about the water consumption in the showers and baths. We must not forget that in most years we are severely short of water in the summer months when the tourists are here.
Setting a maximum number of guests and/or beds, as is being considered in other jurisdictions, should also be implemented in Sechelt. Council should also consider increasing the cost of licensing and fines for infractions to make them more in line with the revenues being earned by the STRs and perhaps help create the necessary budget to enable effective enforcement.
Martin & Deirdre Mendes, Sechelt