PenderBlog From The Pender Islands Of Canada

October 30, 2012

Short Term Vacation Rental Decision on Salt Spring

Filed under: Governance and Legal — Jocko @ 1:51 pm

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From the Islands Trust:

October 30, 2012

BC SUPREME COURT RELEASES DECISION ON WESTCOAST VACATIONS INC.

VICTORIA – The Supreme Court of British Columbia has not supported an attempt launched last term by the Salt Spring Island Local Trust Committee to more effectively enforce community zoning related to short term vacation rentals (STVRs) on Salt Spring Island. The local bylaw prohibiting STVRs remains in place, but an attempt to enforce the bylaw by focusing on a vacation rental agent, rather than individual STVRs, has not been successful.

In March 2011, the local trust committee instructed Islands Trust legal counsel to seek an injunction that would restrain Westcoast Vacations Inc. from using or facilitating the use of residential homes for STVRs on Salt Spring Island. With the advent and growth of STVR booking agencies, enforcement of the community zoning bylaw has been more difficult and more costly for taxpayers.

The case was argued in court before the Honourable Mr. Justice Leask of the BC Supreme Court on October 25 and 26, 2011. Legal counsel for the local trust committee argued that Westcoast Vacations Inc. was using or permitting the use of residentially zoned properties for commercial guest accommodation, and was thereby breaching Salt Spring’s Land Use Bylaw.  Westcoast Vacations did not argue that STVRs were a legal land use, but argued that only the individual owners of the properties could be subject to court injunction preventing this use.

In his Reasons for Judgment released on October 29, 2012, Mr. Justice Leask, noted that “Commercial guest accommodation use is not a permitted primary or accessory use of any land in the Residential Zones.” However, he found that the activities of Westcoast Vacations do not, on their own, constitute a breach of the bylaw, in that Westcoast Vacations could not prevent or prohibit the use of a property for an STVR.

“This was an effort to make bylaw enforcement more efficient, given the SSILTC’s direction last term to actively enforce the land use bylaw regarding STVRs,” said Miles Drew, Islands Trust Bylaw Enforcement Manager. “I will now seek further direction from the current local trust committee as to how it wishes to proceed.”

Salt Spring’s long-standing Official Community Plan policies and zoning regulations prohibit STVRs – the use of private homes in rural and residential zones for commercial guest accommodation. The prohibition does not affect legal bed and breakfasts in residential zones, or legal resorts, hotels and motels in commercial zones, all of which are widely available on the island. People may also continue to rent portions of cottages as part of a bed and breakfast operation in most zones and to rent their residential properties for periods longer than 30 days to a tenant for residential use. – End.

On Pender, STVR’s have continued over the past summer with few or no interventions.  The issue, no doubt, is yet to be settled. – PenderBlog

UPDATE:  NO COURT APPEAL PLANNED FOR WESTCOAST VACATIONS CASE ON SALT SPRING ISLAND

November 9, 2012

At its regular business meeting yesterday, the Salt Spring Island Local Trust Committee announced it would not appeal a decision of the BC Supreme Court in a case launched last term against Westcoast Vacations Inc. — an agent for short term vacation rentals (STVRs) on Salt Spring Island.

In late October, the Supreme Court of British Columbia released its reasons for not supporting an injunction that would have restrained Westcoast Vacations Inc. from using or facilitating the use of residential homes for STVRs on Salt Spring Island. The unsuccessful legal action focused on the activities of the vacation rental agent, rather than on individual property owners. While noting that STVRs are not a legal land use in Salt Spring Island’s residential areas, the Honourable Mr. Justice Leask found that the activities of Westcoast Vacations did not, on their own, constitute a breach of the bylaw. The local trust committee had until November 28, 2012 to give notice of its intent to appeal.

“I think our decision not to appeal is correct,” said Peter Grove, a Salt Spring Island trustee. “While it is the duty of the local trust committee to uphold the official community plan and the land use bylaws, and to enforce the law as may be necessary and appropriate, I believe that launching the lawsuit in this case was heavy handed.”

“I believe it’s right to accept the judgment of the court,” said George Grams, the other local Salt Spring Island trustee. “Continuing this action serves neither the interest of the community nor the local trust committee.”

The local zoning bylaw that prohibits STVRs remains in place. The local trust committee has asked bylaw enforcement staff to suggest other options for enforcing it.

Salt Spring Island’s long-standing Official Community Plan policies and zoning regulations prohibit STVRs – the use of private homes in rural and residential zones for commercial guest accommodation. The prohibition does not affect legal bed and breakfasts in residential zones, or legal resorts, hotels and motels in commercial zones, all of which are widely available on the island. People may also continue to rent portions of cottages as part of a bed and breakfast operation in most zones and to rent their residential properties for periods longer than 30 days to a tenant for residential use.

2 Comments »

  1. When you have a short term rentals the agreement needs to specify the rent and the dates on which it must be paid, it is a good idea to include also what will happen if payment is late.

    Comment by sean ahner — December 23, 2012 @ 9:04 pm

  2. Salt Spring Island is nice place to visit, thanks for wonderful information.

    Comment by Vacation rentals — January 28, 2013 @ 3:11 am

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