Let the business ‘owners’ make their own decision


Tuesday, March 1 2016

The dog sitting issue is becoming more and more of a mother hen issue, and less and less about allowing someone the opportunity to make his/her own choice about taking a chance on running a business.

This past week, the Islands Trust hosted two meetings to get input from members of the public on the current proposal for dog sitting.

The first was a Community Information Meeting (CIM) workshop, attended by twelve members of the public, with Trust staff and both Gabriola Trustees listening.

The second was the Advisory Planning Commission’s turn.

The cost of a temporary-use-permit would be approximately $900 to the applicant. There is also a potential cost to the applicant of modifying the home to satisfy neighbours and Trustees that the dog-sitting operation will contain the noise, smell of urine, and the dogs themselves.

At both meetings, people expressed the concern that the cost of a temporary-use-permit as well as modifying one’s home would make it unlikely anyone would actually go through with getting a TUP for dog-sitting on a small lot on Gabriola.

Currently the proposed dog-sitting bylaws do not require neighbours’ consent for the TUP to be approved. Being as TUPs are custom designed, this particular TUP for dog sitting should require all neighbours consent to the TUP’s approval.

In all likelihood, if someone has his/her neighbours support to run a dog sitting business, it’s cheaper to stay underground. Since enforcement is complaint-driven, there is little chance an illegal dog-sitting operation is going to get caught until it creates problems.

The thing of it is, the end point of this whole discussion is not to ask whether someone will jump through all the hoops required to obtain a temporary-use-permit.

It is about whether those proper channels should even be set up.

It’s not the responsibility of the Local Trust Committee, Trust staff, or Planning Commissions, to question whether something is a viable business model.

If keeping the neighbours happy in order to run a dog sitting operation on a small residential lot requires an operator to have a sound-proofed home, complete with air conditioning (to keep the windows closed in the summer), and any manner of other requirements - that’s up to the business owner to decide if he/she wants to invest in that.

The example of the short-term-vacation TUP was used by some members of a process put in place, but rarely used or approved. Having the short-term TUP in place does mean Trustees and staff can say, “yes, that is legal, but only under these guidelines.”

The same could hold true for dog sitting, if the Trustees approve it as a legal operation within the TUP process.

Of course, as most of the APC members stated, dog sitting may be an inappropriate operation on a small lot all together.

That’s what the Trust Committee really needs to decide.