As the year draws to a close, councillors are too breaking for the holidays. The following are briefs from the final regular council meeting of the year. Council will reconvene Monday, January 14.
STVR TUP TTYL: It was something of a win for short term vacation rentals Monday. While council voted to defer issuing proprietors of an illegally-operating short term vacation rental a temporary use permit, it also decided not to pursue enforcement of the Land Use Bylaw in that instance. The Land Use Bylaw doesn’t allow commercial guest accommodations in residential zones on Bowen (with the exception of bed and breakfasts) effectively banning AirBnBs and similar operations on most of the island. BIM planning manager Dainel Martin said that there are currently at least 83 Bowen listings on AirBnB’s site.
Martin said that staff were nervous about setting a precedent if council issued a temporary use permit for this specific rental property. Instead, BIM staff are going to start to work toward community consultation for a short term vacation rental policy, which could come to council as early as March 2019.
“Whoa, that’s moved a rock,” said councillor Michael Kaile after the motions passed unanimously.
Taking care of business: A bylaw outlining business licence fines, for business operating without a licence or not adhering to the requirements of said licence, unanimously passed first reading. Fines range from $25 (for a first offence) to $175, which planning manager Daniel Martin said is low for such a fee (compared to other municipalities. Martin noted to council that bylaw officers frequently give a warning before resorting to fining and that the municipality has a policy of compliance rather than punishment.
Despite controversy, business licences are coming to Bowen starting January 1, 2019. Enforcement won’t be immediate, giving some months for locals to register with the municipality.
It’s kind of a funny story: When looking to rezone the Veteran’s Park as parkland and a public work yard, council came up against the issue of the true name of the park. On maps the park has also been labelled Athletic Park (and it’s on Athletic Park Road.) Community planner Emma Chow pointed out that in the Parks Plan, it’s labelled Veteran’s Park. When the change was officially made (if it was officially made) is unclear. Despite the name confusion, rezoning passed first reading.
They say fiber is good for you: Bowen’s internet woes could be lessening soon. “You could not have driven around Bowen today and not seen a Shaw truck,” said Kaile. He said the work is related to the fiber optic cable that Shaw’s laid across Bowen this year that will see the company offering islanders “a standard of connectivity equal to Vancouver in the early spring.”