Tickets to Ucluelet’s accommodation-provider paradise might be getting harder to come by.
Jayson Hayes-Holgate and Tanya Elliot are trying to get in on, and help, Ucluelet’s tourism economy by building two 400 sq. ft. guest cottages next to their Marine Drive residence but their hopes were trapped in a zoning limbo last week.
In a letter to the district office, Hayes-Holgate suggested the development would create employment for local tradespeople and contribute to Ucluelet’s economy by “providing more housing for tourism.”
Before the cottages can be built though, council needs to allow the property to move out of its Single Family Residential zone and into a Guest House zone.
“Under the proposed zoning, the subject lot would support six guestrooms—similar to B&B rooms—within the Single Family Dwelling and two guest cottages,” wrote Ucluelet’s Planner 1 John Towgood in a report to council.
Council heard both support and opposition to the move during a Dec. 13 public hearing.
Jennifer Nemmis, who owns a neighbouring property, expressed “no concerns or issues,” and encouraged council to let the proposal move ahead.
Arvid and Sue Hasse though, who live directly behind the property, weren’t so keen.
“We feel that allowing this property to be zoned GH will definitely have a negative impact, not only on the neighbourhood but our house in particular,” they wrote.
“We are already affected by noise and fumes from this property as their backyard currently serves as a parking lot for their diesel truck. We feel that the increased traffic from a guesthouse will only serve to make the noise and fumes unbearable.”
Tanya Elliot said she and Hayes-Holgate have heard more kudos than concerns about their plan.
“I have canvassed the neighbourhood two or three times and I do have a great amount of support in making the changes,” Elliot said.“I have spoken to several neighbours on the street and they don’t object to it at all, actually, they encourage it. They’d like to see more rentals or accommodations available to tourists coming into Ucluelet.”
She added a workshop on the property, which she suggested is a likely source of the Hasse’s noise-frustration, would be taken down if the cottages were built.
“The mill work and carpentry work that is currently being done in the backyard, by my husband, would no longer be on the property so the noise from that would be eliminated,” she said.
Area resident Tom Saunderson noted the new zoning would not only allow for two cottages to be built, but four guestrooms inside the property’s primary residence as well.
“They’ve indicated that they don’t plan on doing the guestrooms, just the cottages. But, in the future, if they were going to do that or if a future owner decides to do that, it’s zoned guesthouse; there’s no going back,” Saunderson said expressing concerns over where guests would park.
Elliot said only one room in the residence would potentially be open for guests.
“I don’t want this to be an invasion for our residence,” she said.
Coun. Randy Oliwa said the district doesn’t have a firm grasp on its bylaw enforcement and “all the associated costs and implications of this boom that we’re having in Ucluelet.”
“It’s going to take us another year to really get that all nailed down and it’s not going to be without hiccups,” he said. “Rezoning, especially going from residential to more of a commercial application, has been a very hot topic in Ucluelet, actually pretty much everywhere.”
He added he had not heard a ringing endorsement from the neighbourhood.
“We’ve had numerous rezonings come through here over the last little bit and that weighs heavy on us, on neighbours, communities and neighbourhoods,” he said. “It’s not a matter of pitching residential properties against residential properties. The decisions we make here tonight go on long after those neighbours are neighbours in some regard…I’m just not feeling the overwhelming acceptance that we’ve had at a lot of the other rezonings for this application.”
Coun. Marilyn McEwen noted Elliot claimed to have her neighbours’ support but, without official letters from those neighbours, council couldn’t be sure.
“It would be great to have more documentation to that effect,” she said.
Oliwa suggested the district’s staff had failed to give council enough information to act.
“We have to think of the worst case and the best case scenario for a rezoning,” he said. “We could be looking at six parking spots as well as the residence and we don’t even have a parking scheme for this.”
Mayor Dianne St. Jacques agreed and questioned why staff had not done a more thorough investigation before council was tasked to make a decision.
“When we get rezoning applications like this, wouldn’t it be part of the process to have a bit of a plan in place for us to approve to see how this is going to work,” she asked.
District CAO Andrew Yeates responded council could stall on making a decision and ask staff to present a more detailed report at a future meeting, which council unanimously voted to do.