In a move to protect the community of Ucluelet from “encouraging more nightly rentals,” mayor Mayco Noël rejected the latest request to turn seven properties primarily zoned for family residences into vacation rentals.
Located on Odyssey Lane, the lots are part of Weyerhaeuser’s OceanWest subdivision. The current zoning of the properties permit single family dwellings as the principal use with vacation rental permitted as a secondary use.
If passed, the proposed rezoning would have allowed the individual property owners to short-term rent the main house.
“They already have the ability to [short-term rent] as a secondary use. I think encouraging absentee home-ownership is not good for any neighbourhood regardless if it’s a cul-de-sac,” said Noël during the April 23 regular meeting.
“It’s not about the applicant, it’s about the land use and it’s about our community. It’s very easy for the community to lose that sense of it. We’re talking seven properties here that, with the possibility that once they’re built, they’ll be just a little caretaker [cabin] and they’ll be 20 cars a day going around the corner to park in the middle of the street because they are large groups. Is that the kind of neighbourhood we want to sprawl across the street and down Marine Drive?” he went on to say.
Applicant and Odyssey Lane owner Adam Glen said he had garnered quite a bit of support from fellow lot owners and community members.
“Both businesses and individuals alike just wanted to ensure that there would be a long-term tenant or a resident on site. A number of businesses were also intrigued by the opportunity to diversify accommodation available in our town that could cater to larger groups,” Glen told mayor and council.
Odyssey Lane residents Lorne and Nancy Bartlett were originally in support of the rezoning proposal, but after having time to reconsider, they said they are now opposed.
“We see the potential for the impact this could have on the character of our street and we just moved here two years ago. It’s a residential area and we don’t want to see it turned into an ultra vacation destination and busy, busy, busy,” Bartlett stated during the meeting.
Longtime Ucluelet resident Barbara Schramm also voiced her disfavour towards the rezoning request.
“My main concern is we’re getting hundreds of properties coming up in Weyerhaeuser and ONNI lands and I’m concerned about a precedent of allowing [the rental of the main house] would send a signal to those developers and that’s what they’ll petition for because it’s their highest rate of return,” said Schramm.
Kerry Harwood, a Ucluelet resident of four years, made an urgent plea to mayor and council for action on housing availability for the local workforce.
“This year seems to be worst. People don’t have places to live and businesses don’t have employees to help the tourist economy that we are thriving on right now. I’m in full support of Rick’s property, if there is anything we can do to get that moving or if someone else has a magic rabbit in a hat, I would love to see it,” said Harwood.
Councillor Kemps made a motion to reject the requested zoning amendment to add vacation rental to the main houses on Odyssey Lane. Councillor Hoar seconded the motion and mayor Noël voted in favour of the motion. Councillor McEwen voted in opposition. Councillor Cole was absent from the April 23 meeting.