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Ucluelet council hosts another B&B bylaw public hearing

Council will make their decision on the proposed B&B bylaw changes during a special Sept. 6 meeting
Ucluelet’s municipal council is considering changes to the town’s local Airbnb laws. (Black Press Media file photo)

Proposed changes to Ucluelet’s Bed & Breakfast (B&B) bylaws was met with a steady stream of opposition during an Aug. 23 public hearing. The roughly 1.5 hour long public hearing was the second one held on the B&B issue since council initiated the process at the beginning of June.

If approved, the B&B bylaw changes will continue to permit “Traditional B&B’s” in residential zones, while the more recent B&B developments with exterior entrances will no longer be a permitted use, according to District of Ucluelet staff. The changes would only effect future building applications. Existing B&B’s and applications in progress with no internal connection to the main house could continue operating as is.

The proposed updates to the B&B bylaws also include serving guests at minimum a continental breakfast and state that “a B&B use is an integral part of the home and must not have a separated or locked-off common area.”

Ucluelet real estate agent Judy Gray took to the podium first. She called council’s move to revert back to traditional B&B’s “antiquated and regressive”.

“In 2022, homeowners and guests are not comfortable sharing space with each other. Families and guests no longer want to share the same space,” said Gray. “The joy of travel and nightly rental rooms is that you you have your own slice to experience the area as if you did live there.”

Gray’s comments were echoed by a dozen or so other Ucluelet homeowners, citing safety and privacy concerns and worries about pets getting out with by strangers coming and going in their home.

“People’s homes are their sanctuaries,” wrote Kellyanne Faulker, a local B&B operator for the past 12 years. She encouraged council to focus on non-compliant B&Bs instead.

On the other side of the debate, Pieter Timmermans and Barbara Schramm stated that they were supportive of bylaws that “put the brakes on absentee airbnb rental units, which threaten to turn Ucluelet homes into investment properties for non-residents”.

Bronwyn Kelleher also expressed her support for having a shared entrance between a vacation rental and a long-term rental.

“We are welcoming people into our community, which is having an impact on all residents so you need to be prepared to if you’re welcoming people into your community to also welcome them into your residence,” Kelleher wrote in an email.

Todd Smith thanked council for moving the B&B issue forward.

“Your actions address the most scarce resource in question and that is time,” said Smith. “There is a moral and ethical imperative to act boldly and swiftly here and in the same vein that homeowners are not solely on the hook to solve our region’s affordable housing crisis, Ucluelet residents nor council should be on the hook for homeowner entitlement to unrealized capital gains.”

In tandem to the B&B bylaw changes, council has initiated a process to allow for an Accessory Residential Dwelling Unit (ADU) as a permitted secondary use for long-term occupancy in most single-family residential zones.

“(Council) really nailed it with ADUs because it really gives property owners an incentive to use the available space and therefore also combat a big problem here in town, which is obviously the place for people to rent,” said Jens Heyduck, a Ucluelet short-term rental business owner for the past 12 years.

Rusty Ockenden agreed.

“I have many friends living in the Sea-to-Sky and when Whistler implemented their ADU program many of those people were able to find housing and continue living and working in the town,” he said.

Council will make their decision on the proposed B&B bylaw changes and ADU during a special meeting scheduled for Sept. 6 at 5:30 p.m.

RELATED: Ucluelet council sends B&B bylaw to CoW

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