How Sunshine Coast towns can regulate short-term rentals
Love them or hate them, new short-term rental rules (STR) within the two municipalities of the Coast will be debated this spring. Gibsons and Sechelt have engaged consulting firms to explore options for updating STR regulations. Each council requested that the focus be on protecting long-term housing supply and maintaining that use of residential properties appropriate for their neighbourhoods.
At a committee meeting on February 15, GIbsons board members agreed to a proposal that could ban STRs on properties that do not include long-term residency, except for a limited number in its port plan area. These changes could arrive as early as August.
This recommendation, which was opposed by the Coun. Stafford Lumley, is expected to be considered by the board at its next meeting on March 1. “I think it’s too restrictive, too low on the scale for me,” Lumley said when asked to explain his opposition by the council. Aleria Ladwig.
The settlements would require a public hearing and, under the proposed timeline, the earliest date would be mid-March.
Planning director Lesley-Anne Staats outlined to the committee a process focused on holding public hearings and preparing a bylaw for adoption by May 1. After adoption, the recommendation from staff is to initiate a three-month “grace period” during which they would work with STR operators to help them come into compliance with the new rules. This would create a game changer for the STR market and city operators during one of their busiest booking months. Staats defended forcing the changes, noting that STRs are not a permitted use of residential properties under Gibsons regulations.
The proposed regulatory scheme would require the council to consider two-year temporary use permits for a yet-to-be-determined number of non-accommodated STRs in units that are not primary residences around Gibsons’ lower waterfront area. She said it was recommended given the lack of commercial tourist accommodation in that part of the community. With proposals like The George and a six-bedroom boutique hotel on the Stonehurst property to come, she noted that supply could increase in the near future.
Additionally, Gibsons’ housing-centric classification system for STRs would allow city residents, landlords and renters to rent their primary accommodations on a short-term basis, whether it be a single family home, townhouse, secondary suite, apartment or other type of dwelling. It would allow the rental of rooms within a main residence or the whole house when the resident is temporarily absent.
On February 11, Sechelt launched a “Have your say” process seeking public comment on potential STR regulations through its social media channels. Sechelt began regulating STRs through business licensing in 2005. It asked the public for input on updating these rules in 2022 as part of its zoning bylaw review process. The focus is now on making changes to the Trade Licensing Regulations and phasing them in beginning with the annual license renewal process in January 2023, according to an email to Coast Journalist municipal planning staff. It was noted that the final decision on when would rest with the board.
Sechelt’s consultation process is expected to run until mid-March, with an online survey and public meetings scheduled between February 23 and March 1. Those interested in attending a meeting must register in advance at sechelt.ca.
At a committee meeting held in December 2021, Sechelt Council supported going public with a proposal that would see STRs on properties that are not also a primary residence classed as “commercial”. Zoning changes for these parcels are not part of this proposal. Council members recommended that the number of such operations be limited, with their first suggestion on the maximum number allowed being 30.
Similar to Gibsons’ approach, operations located on properties occupied by a long-term resident, owner or tenant, would be allowed to rent up to three bedrooms to short-term tenants with new STR regulations replacing the current “bed and breakfast” of Sechelt. ” license requirements. Short-term rentals of entire homes would also be permitted, on occasion, such as when the primary resident is on vacation.
For properties that have a secondary residence, such as a self-contained suite or cottage, the proposal is to allow that unit to be rented as an STR as long as the primary resident is present during the rental period of the unit. No restrictions on the number of short-term rental days allowed on resident-occupied properties are part of the proposal.
The SCRD finalized its changes to the STR regulations in 2020. These require an operator to reside on-site or be available when an STR is leased to customers.