Citizens of Ucluelet had their say during a June 28 public hearing about proposed changes to a bylaw that would remove Bed and Breakfast (B&B) as the default secondary use for all single family residential homes.
With more than 30 people taking to the podium or on Zoom, the public hearing went on for roughly 3.5 hours. An overwhelming majority of speakers expressed their opposition to the proposed bylaw changes. A petition with 122 signatures from Ucluelet residents against the bylaw changes was also submitted to council.
The following night, on June 29, mayor and council unanimously voted to refer the B&B bylaw back to staff and bring it back to a Committee of the Whole (CoW) for further discussion. The portion involving adding accessory dwelling units (ADUs) to properties will also be discussed during the CoW. A date has yet to be determined.
“My thoughts after the public hearing, it’s too big a change effecting too many residents with too little notice. I feel strongly about this,” said councillor Marilyn McEwen, adding that focusing on non-compliant B&Bs should be prioritized and that capping the number of B&Bs could be a consideration.
Councillor Lara Kemps echoed her sentiments.
“It’s the division that just does not sit well with me,” she said.
Mayor Mayco Noel acknowledged district staff for bringing the conversation to the forefront. He said he went into the public hearing with an open mind and was happy with the dialogue that came out of it.
“I’m not a fan of capping anything. We (would) get to 200 pretty quick here. It would be like a 24-hour open fishery,” he said.
Councillor Rachelle Cole re-iterated her original stance about the proposed changes to the bylaw.
“My initial feeling was we can’t take stuff away from people. The community feels very strongly about this one,” she said.
Councillor Jennifer Hoar went along with the vote to refer the proposed bylaw changes to a CoW. She made the suggestion that in order to start a B&B, notification should be given to neighbours, and she expressed her desire for change.
“Do we really want to just let everybody have BnBs? Maybe we just need longer time. I think we need to do something about BnBs otherwise we will continue to see an exponential rise. We need to do something and not everybody is going to be happy about it. Change is hard, but change is also the only constant,” said Hoar.
Council agreed to go through the bylaw in finer detail and tackle issues like full-time owners living on site, notifying neighbours, and enforcing non-compliant B&Bs.