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Council supports forbidding second units as STAs

What started as a zoning amendment to second unit garden/granny suites turned into a decision by council to forbid their use going forward as short-term accommodation rentals (STAs).

The significant change concerns staff. The repeal of current regulations was not on the agenda, therefore unknown to the public.

Planner Paul Walsh spoke to the extensive consultation process for the new rules and regulations for STAs that involved numerous public meetings, deputations and consultation from the public every step of the way.

“Consultation has been loud and clear multiple times, in many public sessions with respect to second units. This would be surprising to a lot of people – change here now would be considered very significant; a dramatic change in relation to the amount of public consultation that has preceded this issue for many months.”

The zoning bylaw amendment was presented at Thursday’s planning meeting to be consistent with provincial policy. It concerned tandem parking for second units, criteria for entrances, updated yard setbacks for clarity and removal of unit size restrictions. The zoning needed to be changed to comply with the province’s Promoting Affordable Housing Act of 2011 – created to create affordable housing, increase stock and generate income for homeowners.

Councillor Jamie Forrester led the charge for council to agree to eliminate future use as STAs in support of the previous council’s intended focus to create more affordable housing. Grandfathered units (those already in place) would be allowed to continue.

He noted the decision of the previous council surrounding second units was focused on affordable housing and helping families with aging parents.

Councillor Phil St.-Jean agreed, noting the issue “came back to bite the municipality in the behind because they became STAs” and were an “explosion of STAs in our community, across the country and world.”

Under the rules adopted last October and the licensing rules passed three weeks ago, a second unit can only be used for a short-term rental if the main house is occupied by the owner or a long-term renter.

Under the bylaw agreed to last Thursday, the form of STAs that would be left are whole house STA’s, where an owner who doesn’t live there rents out the whole house.

Councillor Kate McNaughton has fewer concerns with secondary, granny/garden flats and more with whole homes as they’re not taking existing housing stock the way whole home STAs do.

Several agreed many people depend on short-term summer rentals to make their own homes affordable.

While there was concern expressed that the new bylaw would contradict the previous ones, Walsh stated the highest constraint bylaw would prevail.

Decisions of public planning meetings with a two-thirds majority take effect right away and don’t go to council for ratification.

Filed Under: Local News

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  1. robert sandfield says:

    There is no way for council to incentive low income housing that doesn’t come on the back of taxpayers. Neither can the provincial government. Neither can the federal government. All levels are funded by us, the taxpayer. If a developer gets a property tax break, it is the taxpayer funding that break. If the developer gets a quid pro quo on some other property to incentive low income on another property there is a cost to that. Subsidized housing can’t be done without a cost to the taxpayer. Other than people truly unable to work and earn money, no idea why this is even a discussion point. Housing costs/property costs and employment opportunities are why people move within areas. Has always been true.

  2. Leila Jamiedon says:

    There must be a public consultation in this soon, no? Otherwise it’s just wrong!

  3. Gary says:

    Funny how a cartoon can speak a thousand words.

  4. Susan says:

    Checkout the STA cartoon in Wellington Times.

  5. Mark says:

    The County went down a road of appealing to tourists. They have obviously succeeded. Now they want to have no places for them to stay. In reality there is not one STA that will ever become affordable housing.

  6. Dennis Fox says:

    While my time on a municipal council was a number of years ago, then the term “pecuniary” had a wide definition – I’m not sure if the meaning has chnage since then. It did mean if a person or their relatives could “benefit” – and not just in the blatant money making sense. For example – if a councillor voted in favour of having the road out in front of their property to be reconstructed – this could be a conflict of interest. The fact is, councillors should not be voting on or trying to influence a vote that they or their relstives could benefit from – they are there to represent the people’s interests – not their own. If legalities are being at all questioned – that should be enough for them to leave the decision-making to the others. As we know this has not happened – the public do have the right to challenge thier actions.

  7. Gary Mooney says:

    Municipal rules regarding conflict of interest (pecuniary interest) are relatively weak as compared to conflict of interest rules elsewhere. The Councillor must have a direct pecuniary interest — i.e. if the motion is passed, he/she will (not just may) receive a monetary benefit. That’s not the case here.

    It’s my experience as a Council-watcher that Councillors are careful to avoid running afoul of the pecuniary interest rule.

  8. Herb Pliwischkies says:

    Yikes this is against all principles of property rights.
    I smell lawsuits galore!
    It will be interesting to see how this is handled by our council when the real poop hits the fan…….

  9. Janice says:

    Is Councillor Forrester not in conflict of interest? Wish this could be verified one way or the other.
    This council as previous councils always seems to operate with little forethought.
    Why are we not focusing on providing affordable housing? Cut the red tape!

  10. KA says:

    What an ill-thought out move!

    Council needs to man/woman up to their responsibility for affordable housing by creating logical, long-term solutions, like incentivizing developers to BUILD affordable housing.

    NOT SHUNT THE BURDEN to tax-paying homeowners by DICTATING how and to whom they rent their property!

    What’s next? Fine every homeowner who doesn’t offer up a room in their house as a long-term rental solution?

    Hey Shire Hall, just a reminder, Canada is a free, democratic society.

  11. Another case where County government has taken control over the traditional property rights of 25,000 County residents without our permission. Once again, PEC government is imposing toxic regulatory controls on private property owners undemocratically, ie: without allowing a County wide vote.
    This is a repeat of the heritage district fiasco that resulted in an wanted, highly questionable (in terms of real heritage values), and costly, heritage district on Main Street that remains an unhappy battleground.
    County residents DID NOT VOTE to empower and allow the Corporation of PEC to control our private properties with more unwanted regulations that deprive residents of their proprietary rights.
    As the governing body, County Council must construct affordable housing itself instead of forcing private owners into charitable programs to offset a mismanaged economy, which has been highlighted in the Vital Signs Reports.
    I’ve found that public consultations in this County are mostly fake. They present one-sided information that supports their agenda with false promises. The presentations are political smokescreens designed to weaken our rights, while increasing government control over private properties without following due process that ends in a County wide vote. The heavy hand of unwanted government is stone age colonial governance.
    While colonial style tyranny is certainly part of the colonial legacy in PEC, the rest of Canada has moved ahead and rejected colonialism because it does not serve the people. Colonial governments serve themselves first, refuse to be held accountable, and force us to meet their demands. This is feudal or bad governance responsible for a great deal of human harm and suffering.
    In most of Canada, those dark days are over.

  12. Chuck says:

    The article states Councilor Forrester led the charge. I believe he is in conflict as he is in the accomodation business and is leading restrictions being placed on his competition.

  13. Fred says:

    This is not right to become law. The Municipal Government is overstepping their bounds and without any public consultation.

  14. SJ says:

    @Dave, Just curious because I don’t know – what would the administrative overhead be & what costs related?
    *I would have thought that forbidding them would cause less administration (unless you mean the policing and enforcement?)

  15. Dave says:

    This doesn’t make sense.

    Why ram it through without public consultation?

    Why create an additional administrative overhead? Who is going to pay for this additional costs?

    Its amateur hour..

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