Hello! Wasn’t that wintery blast surprising? A few winter-in-March days for us, and a lasting benefit to the mountain snowpack, a fair trade-off. This report contemplates coexisting with short term rentals and covenant removal applications in Copper Bluffs and Granite Bay.

Short-term rentals
Short term rentals (STRs) are a hot topic these days. There are many considerations to balance, including our island economy and the housing crisis. The key question for us as a community is, how do we want to coexist with short term rentals on Quadra and in Area C? There are some choices we can make, and others which are being imposed by the Province.

The Province is now regulating short term rentals and their operators. Among the provisions is the Principal Residence Requirement, limiting operation of STRs to a host’s principal residence plus one accessory dwelling unit located on the same property. This provision applies automatically to municipalities with populations over 10,000 as well as smaller neighbouring communities; smaller municipalities and electoral areas like ours can choose to ‘opt in’.

There is a short, important survey at srd.ca/area-c-str which asks for your thoughts on regulating short term rentals and balancing the needs of community members. It poses six questions, including are you in favour of Quadra Island and Area C ‘opting in’ to the Principal Residence Requirement for Short Term Rentals; and if STRs are best permitted in all zones, or only certain zones.

When considering how to coexist with short term rentals, it’s relevant to consider the following:

  • The SRD’s 2022 Housing Needs Assessment Report highlighted there were 177 short term rentals in Area C, up from 54 in 2016. 86% of these were classified as a “whole home or apartment”.
  • September 2023 SRD report stated STRs are considered a commercial use and are only permitted in commercial zones where resort or other tourist accommodations are permitted; that STRs are prominent throughout residential zones, and that enforcement of bylaw compliance is initiated with a written complaint.
  • The Province has mandated that zoning regulations be updated to permit a secondary suite or accessory dwelling unit in single-family residential zones. As a result, the SRD must update Zoning Bylaws by June 30th to permit these additional uses.
  • If we do not ‘opt in’ there may be increasing interest from STR investors outside of Area C; this may lead to further erosion of long-term rental accommodation.

PLEASE take a few minutes on the survey and share your thoughts, so we can make the best decision for the community. Survey remains live until Friday March 22. Staff will provide a verbal report to the SRD Board on March 27 with a summary of the results. Thank you!

As well as the survey, I’m holding a public info meeting to discuss ‘opting in’ and to hear your thoughts for improving Quadra’s zoning bylaw to legalize short term rentals. While unfortunately SRD staff are unable to attend this meeting, I will be listening to your feedback and collecting constructive ideas Wednesday March 20th, 6:30pm at the Quadra Community Centre.

marsh

Copper Bluffs and Granite Bay, covenant discharge
There have been two recent applications for properties in Copper Bluffs and Granite Bay to remove (‘discharge’) historic covenants. The covenants were placed on these properties during their subdivision processes because “all available density was used at that time through density averaging”.

For example, in Kanish Bay, there was a “No Further Subdivision Restriction” covenant installed when the owner was granted a strata subdivision of 18 five-acre waterfront lots on land zoned RU-1 (a 10-acre minimum zone). To create the lots which were smaller than the zoning permitted, the land-owner agreed to the no further subdivision restriction of a remaining larger section of land.

In both current applications the land involved is ‘access by water only’ and therefore does not have uninhibited public road access to the Ministry of Transportation network. Staff have indicated that addressing this would need to be considered as part of the process. However, the first step recommended by staff is to hold public meetings to discuss these covenant discharge applications and hear from the community, thoughts, and concerns, about removing these promises to no further land division.

I expect these meetings will take place in April, I’ll share details as they become available.

pine cone

Electoral Area Land Use Planning
For those wondering about the state of the requested staff report on including municipalities in Electoral Area land use planning at the SRD, the report came to the February 28 Board meeting and a motion was made by Director Rice and supported by the Board to move the item into closed session for discussion. Which means, that’s all I can currently say about it.

Thank you for reading this report, please forward it to a friend or neighbour if they may be interested. You’re welcome to connect with me with questions or concerns; you can email rmawhinney@srd.ca, or call 250.203.2468. If you’d like to chat in person, you can book a meeting at calendly.com/robynmawhinney.

Until next time,
Respectfully and sincerely,
Robyn Mawhinney