Trustees approve short-term-vacation permit for home on Whalley; delay approval for Balsam permit

Derek Kilbourn

Sounder News

Wednesday, October 3 2018

The Gabriola Local Trust Committee (LTC) has approved a Temporary Use Permit (TUP) for a short-term vacation rental (STVR) on Whalley Road on Gabriola.

In the same meeting held this past Thursday, the LTC has delayed approval of another TUP for an STVR proposed on Balsam Street.

In making the decisions, Trustee Heather O’Sullivan said she knows there is a balance being struck right now on Gabriola between the people who see STVRs as taking away from potential long-term rental stock, and the people who depend on tourism being an economic driver of the island.

“People need a place to stay,” she said. “From my point of view, there are many more houses sitting empty because of people owning multiple houses and choosing not to rent. I want to strike the balance - I hear the concerns with STVRs - but I don’t think the answer is not having any STVRs, because then we just have the illegal ones, and the problem persists.

“So I approve of this one [on Whalley], while hearing the community concerns.”

In order to obtain a TUP for short-term vacation rentals, applicants have an extensive list of conditions to meet, including needing to prove that they have consulted with neighbours; have an adequate water supply; and have a septic system capable of supporting the proposed vacation rental.

In the case of the application from Balsam, Trustees pointed out that the application for an STVR came as a result of a bylaw enforcement action, a complaint that the owners had been operating a non-permitted STVR. Trustee O’Sullivan asked if there have been attempts to work things out with the neighbours.

“I would like to see the applicant make some effort there...someone has complained to bylaw enforcement, I feel that without the details of the efforts the applicants may or may not have gone to with regards to the neighbours, I don’t have enough information.”

She asked the LTC to request that the applicant submit to the Trust a detailed list of measures taken or to be taken to satisfy neighbours’ concerns.

Trustee Melanie Mamoser supported that approach.

There were also concerns that there is a covenant on the property on Balsam dating back to 1969, held by Gabriola Wildwood Estates, restricting the use on the property to the covenant dwelling houses together with all necessary outbuildings for one family on each lot. Further, the covenant has a restriction stating, “No commercial enterprises may be established or carried on on the lands except those of a literary or artistic nature not employing more than one person full-time.”

Staff noted in the TUP report that the Trust does not hold the covenant and has no role in seeking compliance with the terms and conditions of covenants between private parties.

Trustee O’Sullivan said she would like to know the details on whether Gabriola Wildwood Estates still holds interest on properties that it once held a covenant on - or if Wildwood is even still incorporated - and what would happen if it was not. Trust staff said that since the TUP was not being approved, they would dig further into the covenant issue as part of the application.

LTC Chair Laura Busheikin said it is hard to know the impact of STVR regulation on rental houses. “I think having carte blanche for STVRs isn’t the right thing. But there’s also the need for rental homes. Some of these vacation rentals could be doing that and helping bring money into the economy.”

Trustee Mamoser said Gabriola is one of the few islands that actually has a legal method for dealing with STVRs - other islands and communities are currently struggling with putting a legal framework in place.

“We luckily have a legal means of settling it and considering what the cumulative effect is on the island.”