Trust takes court action against Salt Spring STVR operator

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The Salt Spring Local Trust Committee is showing it’s serious about shutting down short-term vacation rental operations by taking the owner of a Salt Spring property to court.

In a Notice of Civil Claim filed in the Vancouver registry of the Supreme Court of B.C., the LTC alleges that Stacey Nadean Clarahan is using or allowing the property at 480 Upper Ganges Road to be used as a short-term vacation rental by contracting with property manager Laurel Wesnoski to rent the property on a nightly rate basis and while she does not live on the property.

The LTC seeks a court order requiring the defendant to cease using the property for STVR purposes, as well as costs.

According to a news release from the Islands Trust issued Wednesday, the property has been the subject of numerous complaints from the public and Trust bylaw compliance and enforcement staff have communicated with Clarahan and Wesnoski on multiple occasions.

“Despite repeated requests to the operator of the STVR to cease operations, the STVR continues to be active,” the Trust states. 

“There’s also evidence that the property is operating unlawfully as a vacation rental and is often occupied by vacationers,” said David Marlor, director of Local Planning Services for the Islands Trust. “Bed and breakfasts and other lawful, home-based businesses are required to comply with the Salt Spring Island Land Use Bylaw, and it is a reasonable expectation that competing temporary tourist accommodations should also comply with those bylaws and other regulations.” 

The island’s Land Use Bylaw only permits temporary tourist accommodation in single family dwellings in some zones, if it is provided as home-based bed and breakfast accommodation that is accessory to a residential use and operated by a person permanently residing on the property.

The five-acre Upper Ganges Road property is valued by BC Assessment at $843,000 and is on a 5-acre parcel of land.

“Islands Trust has heard from the public about growing concerns over the impacts of STVRs on their lives and the community at large,” said Peter Luckham, chair of the Salt Spring Island LTC, in the Aug. 28 release. “In addition to the very real concerns that these unlawful STVRs are affecting the amount of long-term rental housing available for island residents, we’ve also heard about increased noise, problems with traffic and parking, and water issues from these operations. This is why the LTC has requested that bylaw officers take a proactive approach when dealing with STVRs.”

Since the fall of 2017, Trust bylaw enforcement staff have been proactively enforcing the Salt Spring Land Use Bylaw’s no-STVR provisions, following a motion to do so from the LTC.

As of last December, when the last bylaw enforcement statistical report was released, Trust staff had opened 29 files related to use of a property for STVR purposes on Salt Spring, out of a total of 102 bylaw violation files on the island.

Some 280 files were open across the whole Trust area at that time.

1 Comment
  1. Chris says

    Everybody should be concerned about the fashionable trend to chastise short-term vacation rentals.
    – Owners typically spend a great deal of time and money to ensure travellers have a great experience.
    – The rentals fill a market niche and provide for tourism and exposure for the area which otherwise would not occur.
    The usual attempts to portray the average vacation rental as a nuisance tend to be grossly overstated. If an owner chose to fill their suite with long-term tenants, there would be even more potential traffic, noise, parking complications, pollution, etc, ….than what takes place at a vacation rental. Why? Because frequently, the suite is not occupied. And when there is a guest, he or she is normally out sight-seeing or visiting family and friends.
    The notion that forcing an owner to have long-term tenants in their suite will make them want to do so is a terribly misguided paradigm. The vast majority of vacation rental owners have almost zero interest in being involved in long-term tenancies (for reasons best suited to a separate discussion).

    In summary, clearly, instead of vilifying vacation rentals, it would make much more sense to welcome them, especially under the requirement that the owner lives on the property and sound neighbourly practices are adhered to, and environmental concerns are addressed. (But most travellers to BC are more environmentally aware than the average B.C. resident!).

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