Not everyone on city council was on board with the idea of allowing vacation rentals at the 234-unit apartment complex that would be built on the site of the old Ogopogo Motel.
Coun. James Miller was the lone vote against sending the project to a public hearing on Dec. 20, and argued against the vacation rental addition to the property’s zoning in the face of a housing crunch.
The currently proposed development will include 117 one-bedroom and 89 two-bedroom units out of the total 234 in a six-storey building that will be built in phases over about 36 months.
The property underwent rezoning for development in 2008, before vacation rentals were introduced as part of the city’s zoning bylaw and staff said the amendment would give the owner and the property the same land use rights as other residential zones in the city. Staff also noted that while it would allow the option for vacation rentals, they would still be subject to business license requirements and potential strata bylaws in the development.
The city currently has an ongoing review of vacation rentals.
Coun. Campbell Watt said he was happy to see the proposal, but expressed his concern about giving approval for vacation rentals when the possibility exists that the approval might be taken away following the review.
Miller followed up on Watt’s concerns with further questions about the review, and the impact of allowing further vacation rentals on both housing and to the city’s hotels and hospitality industry.
“I suggest we just slam the brakes on this for the moment because we just had a municipal election,” said Miller. “We heard loud and clear about housing accessibility and I believe that vacation rentals is a major issue here.”
A compromise amendment of removing the vacation rental portion of the application, which also included updates to setbacks and allowing a mobile food vendor for the property, was offered by Coun. Isaac Gilbert but he did not receive any support for his proposal.
An update on the city’s review of vacation rentals, but not the final report, is currently planned to be presented to council on Dec. 20, ahead of the public meeting regarding the development.
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