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North Pender Island

Presentation to the Trust Council, March 9th, 2011

Letter to the Islands Independent from PIVAA
(Pender Island Vacation Rental Association)


North Pender Trust Attacks Vacation Rentals - A History

The Islands Trust has issued a public notice that it now plans to prosecute people who advertise short term vacation rentals on North Pender Island and threatens them with a $5000/day fine. This action is not based on any complaints against individual properties. Because the Trust’s “new” position is not supported by the facts, it is important that these facts be made public so that you can judge for yourself whether the North Pender Trust Committee is acting in good faith.

1. Historically the Official Community Plan (OCP) and Land Use Bylaw #103 (LUB) for North Pender Island have been silent on the issue of short-term vacation rentals. They neither permitted nor prohibited the use and several property owners provided this type of family accommodation.

2. On Sept. 23, 1999 the LUB was amended to add Section 1.3 which provided that all rental accommodation of dwellings or cottages must be for a term of not less than 30 days.

3. Bylaw 103 was an issue in the Nov. 1999 election of North Pender Island Trustees.
Em Round campaigned on the promise that he would remove the restriction on short term rentals. Wayne Wright, another candidate, also endorsed this position. Both were elected.

4. After the election, Bylaw 118 was introduced which included a provision to make rentals of less than 30 days legal. Trustee Round informed the Pender Island Vacation Accommodation Association (PIVAA) that this provision was not proceeded with on the advice of the Islands Trust planning staff who claimed that the same effect would be achieved by just removing the prohibition.

5. On April 12, 2000, an amendment to Bylaw103 was introduced and the prohibitive Section 1.3 was deleted in its entirety.

6. Em Round wrote to a member of PIVAA on May 14, 2006 saying: “It should be understood by the reader that this amendment to Bylaw 103, was being made with the understanding that property rentals, be it house or cottage, with this amendment would make the practice of renting one's property, be it house or cottage for less than 30 days, legal”.

7. Wayne Wright and John Money, the other two members of the North Pender Island Trust Committee at the time of the amendment, have also confirmed this understanding by affidavit.

8. From April 2000 to this date, there have been no further amendments to Bylaw 103 to prohibit or restrict short term vacation rentals.

9. In an Islands Trust Staff Report dated July 23, 2003, the Islands Trust Bylaw Investigations Officer Miles Drew stated: “The clause [s. 1.3 of Bylaw 103] made clear that short term rental of dwellings was a commercial activity and was only legal in commercial zones. Subsequently the Land Use Bylaw [No. 103] was amended by deleting this clause. It appears that it was the intent of the Local Trust Committee to permit short term rentals in all zones.”

10. Two days later, a letter from David Essig, Chair of the Islands Trust, dated July 25, 2003 supported this view stating: “...land use regulations on North Pender Island currently permit vacation rentals and that your Local Trust Committee does not have plans to change the existing regulations.”

11. In March 2005, North Pender Island Trustee Gary Steeves also concurred, writing to a concerned property owner stating: “One point I think needs to be made. You made reference to banning or severely limiting less than 30 day rentals. We have repeatedly told all concerned that there are no preconceived outcomes regarding this issue. We have made that point both verbally and in writing. Neither Em Round nor I have ever suggested a ban on such practices.”

12. In correspondence dated November, 16, 2005, with another vacation rental owner, Trustee Steeves also stated: “Our OCP [Official Community Plan] and LUB [Land Use Bylaw] are currently silent on the issue of STVR [Short Term Vacation Rentals] (i.e. no wording that specifically permits such a land use nor prohibits such a land use).”

13. In May, 2007 Em Round stated in an affidavit that: “It is perverse that the Islands Trust planning staff now claim that the Land Use Bylaw's silence on rentals of less than 30 days means prohibition.”

14. In 2007, the North Pender Island Trustees changed the OCP to prohibit short term vacation rentals as a principal use. Most people are unaware that the OCP is only a visionary document and land use enforcement actually lies within the Land Use Bylaw. In 1999 and 2000, the trustees recognized this and made the LUB changes. Today the Trust is trying to enforce on the strength of its revised OCP alone because changing the LUB would legally allow grandfathering of existing short term rentals.

15. During a recent court case (the Timbers), PIVAA objected to the Trust characterizing all short term vacation rentals as being equivalent to the site at issue and requested intervenor status to get this clarified by the court. The Trust opposed the intervention claiming that PIVAA members are not affected on the basis that its members are different from the accused. Now, the Trust is arguing the opposite position, claiming the Timbers decision is justification for prosecuting them.

16. Most recently, Trustees on other islands have adopted reasonable and innovative approaches to working with responsible vacation rental owners and are considering alternatives which allow them under certain conditions. This contrasts with North Pender’s unreasonably heavy handed approach.

If the Trust continues unchallenged down its current path on North Pender, expect more of our tax dollars to be spent prosecuting individuals who acted in good faith based on information provided by the Trust itself. More than 80% of weekly vacation rentals are to families along with their kids and family pet wishing to experience our lovely islands. Say goodbye to visitors who spent money in our restaurants, grocery stores, galleries and shops. Say goodbye to the people who depended on jobs providing cleaning, maintenance and gardening services to vacation rentals. So much for the "Friendly Pender Islands”.

Pender Islands Vacation Accommodations Association


 

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