Trustees approve renewal of short-term vacation rental on Strand

Derek Kilbourn

Sounder News

Tuesday, May 12 2015

The Gabriola Local Trust Committee (LTC) has approved a Temporary Use Permit (TUP) to allow a short-term vacation rental to continue operating on the Strand near Sandwell Provincial Park.

Trustees followed the advice of staff, who acknowledged that the site was well prepared to operate as a short-term site; had already been operating for a number of years with no complaints from neighbours; and that the property owners had shown willingness and diligence to follow the rules and provide all the necessary documentation to the Trust Committee to receive the TUP.

One issue staff and Trustees identified is that the particular site had, for a couple of years, operated without a TUP.

The property owner did not realize the TUP needed to be re-applied for; staff did not realize the TUP had expired until bylaw enforcement staff brought it to the attention of the property owner.

Trustees Melanie Mamoser and Heather Nicholas both said they would like to see some kind of process put in place to advise property owners that a TUP is getting close to expiring.

Staff and Trustees discussed the fact that in the strictest sense of the Gabriola Official Community Plan (OCP), a Temporary Use Permit can only be issued for three years, and then renewed only once for another three years.

The TUP under discussion had run the three years of its first term and had been expired for three years. Had it been renewed upon expiry, the LTC could have refused to approve the TUP based on the wording in the OCP.

Staff pointed out that unlike a lot of TUP sites, this particular one is only used for six to eight weeks a year and rented to families who have a long-term relationship with the owners.

Courtney Simpson, Regional Planning Manager for the Northern Office, said the Local Government Act does not limit how often a TUP can be issued, it is the Gabriola OCP which says no renewal after two terms.

Nicholas said from her perspective “the reason for having the TUP in our bylaws is to strike a balance with short-term vacation rentals; to serve the economic interests of our community members without throwing it wide open. I think the attempt to strike a balance is important, and to do that it would be good to be as open as possible with our decision.”

Mamoser said from the perspective of time, the applicant has had their six years (three with a TUP, three without) and, with the approval, would have another three years with a legal TUP.

She suggested that when the TUP is getting close to expiring, a letter be sent to the applicant (and other TUP properties) to advise them of the two-term limit, and suggest that a rezoning application might be appropriate to continue with the short-term vacation usage. 

Staff were not able to give a specific number, but said between seven and nine TUPs have been approved since TUPs for short-term-vacation rentals were put into the Gabriola OCP and Land Use Bylaw.