A group of property owners is suing British Columbia's District of Sechelt in Canada to reverse amendments to its business license bylaw that they claim unlawfully restrict the use of secondary homes as short-term rentals. They assert that they use their properties "on a part-time basis as a secondary residence, with their principal residence being elsewhere." Their petition states that each owner had existing business licenses to run their short-term rentals, which had to be renewed annually per Sechelt's zoning and business license bylaws. However, the amendments limited short-term rentals to an owner's "principal residence" and restricted how many licenses an individual can own to two, while also mandating that short-term rental operators must obtain a temporary use permit for secondary residences. The result, the petitioners' argue, is "two classes" of short-term rental that unfairly favor residents over non-residents. "Sechelt has no authority to designate, through its zoning bylaw, a zone based on ownership and, more specifically, cannot zone property based on discrimination between classes of owners," the petition declares. Basically, the plaintiffs say Sechelt's bylaw wrongfully bans "otherwise lawful businesses," and they also stress the impossibility of complying with the bylaws because people are not allowed to operate short-term rentals in secondary homes while adhering to the new business licensing rules. They seek declarations that the amendments to the business license bylaw overreach, and an order barring Sechelt from using residency as a condition to issue temporary-use permits for short-term rentals in secondary properties.
BIV (11/04/22) Darryl Greer