New software won’t cut it

Editor:

Re: “Sechelt to explore software to track short-term rentals,” coastreporter.net Sept. 21.

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If Sechelt council thinks a new software system to track short-term rentals is going to satisfy residents’ demands for changes to our outdated, inadequate STR bylaws and enforcement procedures, they’ve got another guess coming.

Setting aside the fact that a system of accountability should have been in place from the very beginning, a new tracking system will not replace the need for significant changes to STR bylaws. The SCRD is about to require onsite owners/managers, limit the number of bedrooms/guests, and make other necessary changes. Gibsons is close behind. If Sechelt doesn’t take similar action, we risk becoming STR Party House Central for the entire Sunshine Coast.

No doubt the Sechelt and District Chamber of Commerce would love for that to happen – more money for them (or so they think), along with STR owners – and so they’ve preemptively chimed in to express opposition to any changes to STR bylaws. Instead, they say they’d like to see increased bylaw enforcement. How generous.

The problem is residents are fed up with the complaints-driven bylaw (non)enforcement system altogether, which offloads the responsibility for policing unsupervised STRs onto affected neighbours, who must endure violations in real-time without recourse – bylaw officers don’t work evenings and weekends, when most problems arise – then file a formal complaint (on their own time) after-the-fact, just in time for the next obnoxious house party to arrive.

This nonsense has got to stop. Sechelt needs proper STR regulations like the ones about to be enacted in the SCRD. No more unsupervised party houses, period. As SCRD director Donna McMahon said, “Residential areas are zoned for residents to live in, not for the operation of commercial ventures.” Why is that so hard to understand?

MJ Lord, Sandy Hook

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