Ucluelet’s municipal council recently shut down a proposal to put two guest cottages on a Marine Drive property. (Ucluelet council March 28 agenda)

Ucluelet’s municipal council recently shut down a proposal to put two guest cottages on a Marine Drive property. (Ucluelet council March 28 agenda)

Neighbourhood concerns stop proposed guest cottages in Ucluelet

“Please help us keep our residential neighbourhoods residential.”

A Ucluelet couple’s stalled rezoning request is no longer in limbo; it’s been killed.

Jayson Hayes-Holgate and Tanya Elliot’s dream to establish two, 400 sq. ft. guest-cottages next to their Marine Drive residence was crushed on March 28 as Ucluelet’s municipal council denied their application.

As was reported in the Westerly News, council had reviewed the request to rezone the property from single family residential to a guesthouse zone in December, but declined to make a decision until more information could be obtained about where the tourists staying at the guesthouses would park.

Parking ended up taking a back seat in their final decision though, as council cited a neighbour’s concerns as the key reason for not allowing the project to go ahead.

Their ultimate refusal came immediately after a public hearing, where Arvid Hasse, who owns the property directly behind the spot the cottages would go, voiced clear opposition.

“There would be a dramatic increase in the level of noise with cars coming and going and keep in mind these cars will be driving into and parking in the backyard,” Hasse said.

“There would be a constant parade of people moving in and people moving out and, of course, there’s the added noise that vacationers would make with barbecues et cetera, often involving alcohol. All this would be going on in a residential yard.”

He added the guesthouses would bring increased light pollution and decreased privacy to surrounding residents.

“I understand why people would want to put guest houses in a yard, as opposed to running a bed and breakfast in your home,” he said. “Why run a b and b and suffer the inconvenience of strangers in your house, invading your privacy, when you can easily ship that inconvenience to your neighbours by putting in guest cottages?”

He suggested “one resident should not benefit at the expense of their neighbours,” and urged council to,

“Please help us keep our residential neighbourhoods residential.”

Hayes-Holgate spoke during the hearing and assured he would adhere to local bylaws, provide adequate screening from neighbours and that there would be sufficient off-street parking.

He said he had canvassed his neighbourhood and received mostly support.

“We were encouraged to move forward with our application as we are in a prime location; close to beaches, the Wild Pacific Trail and downtown,” he said. “Although the guest house zoning leads more towards the commercialization of the property, it is our wish to keep our house a home.”

After the hearing, Coun. Randy Oliwa was the first to move that the application be denied.

He said he weighed the feedback from residents based on each one’s proximity to the property and, with an immediate neighbour opposed, he couldn’t support the rezoning.

“It’s not a light decision that I’m making, but I came to my decision by way of the public process. I have a duty to the community to make a decision on the public input that I’ve heard,” he said. “I find those public comments very, very, strong and very powerful.”

Mayor Dianne St. Jacques agreed and said a neighbourhood must be in agreement for a rezoning to be allowed.

“These are not easy decisions to make but we make them with the best intent for the good of the community,” she said.

“When we brought the guesthouse zoning in many years ago, it was certainly with the intent that the neighbourhood would have a full chance at full discussion on it and the guesthouse zonings would happen if the neighbourhood as a whole wanted it in their neighbourhood. Because it does have an impact.”