Island Trustees advised to develop short-term vacation rental enforcement policy

Derek Kilbourn

Sounder News

Tuesday, June 6 2017

Islands Trust Bylaw Enforcement is making recommendations that the Gabriola Local Trust Committee request staff to develop a Short Term Vacation Rental (STVR) enforcement policy for consideration and to present options for regulating STVRs.

According to the report issued by Warren Dingman, Bylaw Enforcement Officer, the Trust has received a complaint about the number of STVR rentals on Gabriola. 

The complainant stated that there are 20 STVR advertisements for Gabriola. 

According to Dingman, unlawful STVR tourist accommodations are operating without being subject to regulations and compete directly with lawful operations such as B&Bs and other tourist accommodations. 

“To adequately respond to this complaint, the bylaw enforcement team must open files on every unlawful STVR and require them all to apply for a Temporary Use Permit (TUP) or cease operations.”

Dingman says in his report, “There is currently only one STVR bylaw enforcement file for Gabriola, and the operator has applied for a TUP.

“There are only two valid STVR TUPs and only one current application for a STVR TUP.”

At the time of Dingman’s report, there were twenty-three advertisements on Airbnb for Gabriola, most of which he says are lawful. 

Five appear to be using unlawful cottages as an STVR (some using multiple unlawful cottages); two are using lawful cottages for overnight accommodation on less than a monthly basis for monetary gain; and the remainder operate from STVR operations in lawful dwellings with off-island owners but several of those are using unlawful secondary suites for the STVR.

The situation, Dingman says, indicates the STVR regulations in the Gabriola Land Use Bylaw are currently being ignored. 

“A bylaw enforcement policy specifically formulated to address this situation may result in greater compliance with the bylaw.

“STVRs are not permitted uses in the Gabriola Island Land Use Bylaw unless the operator has obtained a Temporary Use Permit (TUP). However, there are some problematic issues with exclusively using TUPs to permit STVR operations.” 

He outlines there are some types of STVR operations that the community has no concerns about and therefore the expense and effort of processing a TUP by both the operator and planning staff achieves no worthwhile goal. 

Dingman does not elaborate on what those types of operations may be.

He states that the expense and effort of using bylaw enforcement resources to require those STVRs to obtain TUPs may also not be worthwhile. 

“Land Use Bylaw regulations can be adopted which regulate STVR uses without requiring TUPs.”

The report is on the agenda for consideration by the LTC at a scheduled meeting this coming Thursday, June 8, at the Gabriola Arts Centre on South Road.

The meeting will start at 10:15 a.m. Full agenda available at the Islands Trust office on North Road or online at www.islandstrust.bc.ca under the Gabriola link.