The Islands Trust is proposing changes to Bylaw 512 that will impact specific properties on Salt Spring, but the changes will also have an impact on all of us. What the bylaw 512 says:
- Adds the concept of a full-time rental cottage (2.1);
- Rezones around 400 properties that currently allow a seasonal cottage to now allow a full-time rental cottage (2.3);
- Disallows the use of any cottage for home based B&B (3.15.7): ” On lots where a full-time rental cottage is permitted, no seasonal or full-time rental cottage may be used as part of a bed-and-breakfast home-based business. “
What This Means:
If you are affected by this Bylaw then when it is adopted you will lose the right to use a seasonal cottage as part of a home based B&B business. This is true even if you don’t yet have a cottage, and regardless of whether you want to provide long term rental accommodation.
What You Can Do:
If you are OK with the Trust arbitrarily changing your zoning to remove key activities that are currently allowed, then you can relax!
Write to the Trust LTC members and tell them what your concerns and issues are (see below for my concerns)
- Laura Patrick email@example.com
- Peter Grove firstname.lastname@example.org
- Peter Luckham email@example.com
- OR firstname.lastname@example.org
- I would also copy the planner Jason Youmans email@example.com
You have the right to request that your property be removed from the Bylaw. This has to be approved by the LTC so isn’t guaranteed, but you should consider doing this in writing.
Attend the Public Hearing and speak up
Attend any LTC committee meetings that have Bylaw 512 on the agenda and speak up
NOTE- even if you are not impacted by Bylaw 512 right now:
The Trust have been taking aim at home based B&Bs for at least 10 years, especially where seasonal cottages are involved.
The aggressive Bylaw enforcement that has happened to date is irrelevant if the Trust simply downzone properties to dis-allow B&B use. Just because you are not affected now doesn’t mean that you won’t be in the future. The Trust could easily extend this approach to all cottages on the island, or just dis-allow B&B as a home based use in general.
What is Wrong with Bylaw 512?
- People have made major decisions based on the existing Bylaw, including choosing to move here, building cottages and setting up home bases B&B businesses. They may have made very different decisions if Bylaw 512 had been in effect. It simply isn’t acceptable to force a zoning change that has such a major impact on peoples lives and livelihoods.
- For some of those people their home based B&B is a major part of their income and is what allows them to live on Salt Spring Island. Removing peoples livelihoods isn’t acceptable.
- Being a landlord can be very challenging. Some people have no intention of making their cottages available to the general public for long term rental. If Bylaw 512 is adopted and enforced then those seasonal cottages may end up simply sitting empty.
- This bylaw change will also impact property values as affected properties would no longer be of interest to buyers who want the possibility of running a home based B&B business;
- Seasonal cottages that are already built and conforms to the 602 sq ft limit cannot take advantage of the increased size allowance, but still get the disadvantage of not being able to use the cottage as a B&B;
- A 602 sq ft seasonal cottage is perfect for short term use, as currently mandated by Bylaw 355. They are however very small and far less suitable as long term accommodation.
- Its no secret that people are already renting their cottages long term, but do not necessarily want to lose the right to run a B&B. Bylaw 512 creates a very difficult situation. In order to claim a legal non-conforming use (aka “grandfathering”), they would need to evict their tenants and switch to B&B use before the Bylaw is adopted. Surely this is the opposite of what these changes are trying to achieve. ( Local Government Act, Part 14, Division 14 – Non-conforming Use and Other Continuations)
- The latest updates to the Residential Tenancy Act (RTA) disallowed “fixed term” tenancies. This means it’s against the RTA to rent a property for 6 months over the winter, and then “kick someone out” to make more money as a B&B over the summer. Anyone who rents to a tenant for more than 30 days is automatically bound by the RTA – whether or not they have a written agreement to any other effect. So, removing B&B usage from seasonal cottages to legislate against this is redundant.
The responsibility for addressing the affordable and long terms rental issue on Salt Spring Island lies with the Trust and should not be off-loaded onto individual property owners by down-zoning their properties.
What about Grandfathering?
Being legally non-conformant, or grandfathering, is very different from being legal. As detailed in Local Government Act, Part 14, Division 14 – Non-conforming Use and Other Continuations being legally non conformant has the following requirements and issues:
- The use has to exist on the day the Bylaw is adopted. This means that if you haven’t built or finished your cottage yet, you are currently providing long term accommodation, or are just taking a break from providing B&B on the day this Bylaw is adopted – then no grandfathering for you!
- The use has to continue uninterrupted without any breaks of longer than 6 months. This means no taking a year off B&B, providing shelter for a friend or family member in need etc. You HAVE to keep running the B&B forever or you lose your grandfathering.
- If the building is significantly damaged, for example in a fire or earthquake, and needs for than 75% rebuilding – you lose your grandfathering. This means that you could lose the use for situations that are beyond your control. This can also be an insurance issue.
The latest version of this proposed Bylaw can be found here
Bylaw 512 (current version)
Staff Reports, Correspondence etc
Public Hearing Package including zoning map
Local Government Act, Part 14, Division 14 – Non-conforming Use and Other Continuations