The Council has a lot to consider when it comes to policy for short-term vacation rentals in Cumberland.
The need for affordable rental housing as well as vacation rentals has driven the village to balance the needs of both.
Staff presented council with a list of options at the May 9 meeting to seek input on a bylaw amending the community’s zoning bylaw.
“It’s a bit of a puzzle — all the different pieces fit together,” lead planner Karin Albert told the council. “If you like one, you’ll probably… like the other, but if you change one, it might impact the other.”
For the latest report, staff considered community feedback and made some changes to the recommendations for the plan.
Some of the main ideas included requiring a primary resident to live on property with vacation rentals; limit the number of rooms to three and the maximum number of guests to six; limit vacation rentals to one unit per property; clarify that a vacation rental may be located in a main dwelling, secondary suite or secondary suite on a property; amend the definition of vacation rentals to distinguish between commercial use of a home as a vacation rental and cohabitation of a principal residence; and explore options for operators to display a sign on the property.
One of the main sticking points for the council during the discussion was a proposal to allow those with existing rental properties to be grandfathered, even if the landlord lives off-site.
“We can’t change the rules about people,” Albert told the council, explaining that grandfathering would amount to a legally improper use of property.
The acquired rights would continue even if the property were sold. Albert said if an operator stops using the property for a period of six months, then they cannot apply for a vacation rental later.
Council members expressed concern that the current off-site owners continue to operate under different rules. They said it ultimately won’t help create more long-term rental housing.
“I feel like it’s a loophole that I didn’t know about,” the adviser said. said Sean Sullivan.
He also said he wanted annual business license renewals. Staff responded that once a person applies and is approved, they only need to reapply, not reapply.
“As long as they pay for renewal every year, they have that business license,” said acting administrative director Michelle Mason.
Staff added that the village currently only has 14 such business licenses, with no significant increase in the number of applications. However, council members suggested closing the loophole for any new apps to prevent people from taking advantage of it now.
There were also questions about which areas of Cumberland should allow vacation rentals. Staff recommended keeping the current zoning in place and considering potential changes later in the Official Community Plan (OCP) review process to avoid confusion.
After lengthy discussions, council passed a motion directing staff to draft zoning bylaw amendments incorporating the various recommendations, as well as business license bylaw amendments to cover vacation rental bylaws. In addition, the council wants a conversation about parking compensation payment options and sign details once the bylaw is presented.
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Cumberland Rental Market