The burgeoning tiny home trend could be coming to Tofino. (Black Press photo)

The burgeoning tiny home trend could be coming to Tofino. (Black Press photo)

Bylaw makes room for tiny homes in Tofino

‘We’re removing minimum dwelling size’

The burgeoning tiny home trend could be coming to Tofino while owners of large homes face being barred from the local tourism industry.

District staff have been working on a complete rewrite of the town’s zoning bylaws for the past two years and one of the most significant changes might be what they’ve left out of the final draft.

“We’re removing minimum dwelling size,” said manager of community sustainability Aaron Rodgers. “People can decide to build whatever size of house that suits them. ”

Under the current bylaw, homes must be a minimum of 750 sq. ft., but Rodgers said that mandate has forced some property owners to build houses larger than they desired and put an unnecessary barrier in the way of affordability.

“We’re trying to be more flexible. People’s needs are changing over the years. Not everybody wants to build a bigger house,” he said. “We’re offering more choice and more flexibility in the housing market.”

The zoning bylaw’s revision was ordered by Tofino’s municipal council in 2016 as part of its proactive fight against illegal vacation rentals and Rodgers said much of the changes his team has presented involve clarifying definitions and cleaning up roughly 20 years worth of zoning bylaw accumulation.

“We’re basically just tightening up the vacation rental and bed and breakfast rules so that, as we move forward, they’re clearer, more transparent and easily enforceable,” he said. “The zoning bylaw is old and cranky and missing words. So, if you interpret it to the letter of the bylaw, which we do, we can’t do things that were probably intended to happen.”

While the revised bylaw looks to nix minimum house sizes, it’s also putting a new maximum size restriction on residences that offer a bed and breakfast or short term rental. Homes with more than three bedrooms will not be permitted to offer short term rentals and homes with more than four bedrooms will not be permitted to operate a bed and breakfast.

Currently, all homes within Tofino’s residential zones are permitted to operate a B and B, provided they have a business licence and only rent out a maximum of three rooms, but Rodgers said the district’s bylaw team has struggled to monitor operations closely enough to know how many rooms a residence is renting out. He said for-profit accommodation is meant to be a secondary use for a family residence, but the district is seeing illegal “mini-hotels” popping up.

“We walk away and the next thing we know, they’re renting out all six rooms,” he said. “We just want to make sure that the rules are tight and fair across the board,”

Rodgers said anyone currently holding a business licence for either a short term rental or B and B would be grandfathered in as legal, regardless of the amount of rooms in their home, but any new applications would be subject to the size limit.

He added that the use must be continuous in order to remain grandfathered, meaning anyone who stops operating their rental or B and B for six months would be forced into the new legislation.

He said property values should stay safe as a sold home’s grandfathered use as a B and B or vacation rental will remain intact as long as the new owner applies for a business licence early in the process.

“As long as the use continues, you’re fine,” he said.

The proposed bylaw was expected to go through a public hearing process on April 24, but an internal error at the district office caused an advertising mixup that forced the hearing to be rescheduled to May 22.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Stand up paddleboarder Christie Jamieson is humbled to her knees as a pod of transient orcas put on a dramatic show on Jan. 19 in the Ucluelet Harbour. (Nora O’Malley photo)
Ucluelet paddle boarder surrounded by pod of orcas

“My whole body is still shaking. I don’t even know what to do with this energy.”

Gord John stands during question period in Ottawa in Sept. 2020. (PHOTO COURTESY CHRISTIAN DIOTTE, HOUSE OF COMMONS PHOTO SERVICES)
2020: A Year in Review with Courtenay-Alberni MP Gord Johns

NDP MP wants to ‘build back better’ in 2021

Tofino expects to elect a new mayor and two new councillors on March 6. (Westerly file photo)
Nomination period begins for Tofino byelection

Tofino is set to replace former mayor Josie Osborne, who is now the Mid Island-Pacific Rim MLA.

Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation Chantel Moore, 26, was fatally shot by a police officer during a wellness check in the early morning of June 4, 2020, in Edmundston, N.B. (Facebook)
Quebec’s BEI completes investigation into Chantel Moore’s fatal shooting by Edmundston police officer

New Brunswick’s public prosecutions services and chief coroner to conduct public hearing

The Pacific Rim National Park Reserve is reminding visitors that all dogs must be leashed at all times. (Westerly file photo)
Pacific Rim National Park Reserve urges dog owners to show respect by leashing their pets

“As Coastal Stewards, we appreciate seeing you with your pets on leashes.”

Syringe is prepared with one of B.C.’s first vials of Pfizer vaccine to prevent COVID-19, Victoria, Dec. 22, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 caseload stays steady with 465 more Tuesday

No new outbreaks in health care facilities, 12 more deaths

Inmates at Metchosin’s William Head Institution are being given COVID-19 vaccines as part of the first phase. Around 600 inmates will be vaccinated in the coming days. (Black Press Media file photo)
William Head prison inmates in receive first doses of COVID vaccine

Priority set for older inmates and those with underlying medical conditions

New Westminster TV production designer, Rick Whitfield, has designed an office in a box for British Columbians in need of a private workspace. (BC Box Office photo)
PHOTOS: B.C. man designs ‘box office’ solution for those working from home

‘A professionally designed workspace on your property, away from the distractions of home’

Chilliwack ER doctor Marc Greidanus is featured in a video, published Jan. 18, 2021, where he demonstrates and describes effectiveness of various styles of masks. (Youtube)
VIDEO: Emergency room doctor runs through pros and cons of various masks

‘We’ve been asked to wear a mask and it’s not that hard,’ Greidanus says.

(Pixabay photo)
VIDEO: Tip to Metro Vancouver transit police helps woman 4,000 km away in Ohio

Sgt. Clint Hampton says transit police were alerted to a YouTube video of the woman in mental distress

A woman types on her laptop in Miami in a Monday, Dec. 12, 2016, photo illustration. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Wilfredo Lee
British Columbia government lax on cybersecurity practices, auditor reports

The audit did not highlight a specific threat, but it found breaches in cybersecurity are increasing globally

A water taxi at Victoria’s Fisherman’s Wharf. (Black Press Media file photo)
Man arrested after stolen water taxi raced up Victoria’s Gorge Waterway

Man is facing recommended charges of theft over $5,000 after leading police on marine chase

A mattress on fire gutted the second floor hallway at Town Park Apartments C-block Jan. 17. (Port Hardy Fire Rescue images)
‘Suspicious’ Port Hardy apartment fire could keep tenants out of their homes for months

A burning mattress created smoke and heat, causing several tenants to jump from windows

Cranbrook Food Bank coordinator Deanna Kemperman, Potluck Cafe Society executive director Naved Noorani and Sunshine Coast Community Services Society executive director Catherine Leach join B.C.’s new Municipal Affairs Minister Josie Osborne on a video call about B.C. gaming grants, Jan. 19, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C. gaming grants reorganized for COVID-19 priorities

Minister highlights community kitchens, food banks

Most Read