Here we go again
Up front, let me say that I have substantial bias in the subject matter of this letter. Three days ago, a sign went up on a property four doors away from our home notifying us that the owners are applying to rezone it to tourist accommodation bed and breakfast.
This letter is not about all the very good reasons this application should not be granted. To name a few, it is immediately beside an already zoned B&B, on a quiet cul-de-sac, in an established family neighbourhood, at the top of Alpine, which in a normal winter can be a challenge accessing. (The location of this proposed B&B by the way is 8721 Idylwood Place.)
The reason I am writing this letter is to make your readers aware that the issue of new tourist accommodation in old neighbourhoods has been resurrected when many of us thought it had met a much welcomed demise several years ago.
A little background. I sat on council in the latter half of the 90s when tourist accommodation in residential subdivisions was a hot button issue. There were both legal and illegal pensions and B&Bs in most subdivisions and those who were legally operating were justifiably upset about the ones who were not. So it appeared to be an enforcement issue at first. Steps were taken by the bylaw enforcement types, which included court proceedings. Operators were encouraged to legitimize their operations by applying for rezoning. Some did.
It was in the course of a number of these rezonings that the real issue came to bear. That was the majority of people in most of the established subdivisions just didn't want these operations in their neighbourhoods. Simple as that. So the council of the day put a moratorium on rezoning in existing neighbourhoods to any type of tourist accommodation. New neighbourhoods such as Kadenwood, Spring Creek, Nita Lake, etc., would have some properties designated as tourist accommodation. That way, the demand for this type of accommodation would be met and all persons purchasing in the new subdivisions would know ahead of time what they were buying into. In other words, no surprises. The days of pitting neighbour against neighbour in established neighbourhoods were over. Or so we thought.
Apparently, council a while ago lifted the moratorium on B&B rezoning. I understand that they believed the impact of a B&B was similar to that of a single family home with a suite so that there was no good reason to maintain the moratorium.
I strongly disagree. First, there are over 20 operating tourist accommodation pension and B&Bs in Whistler neighbourhoods already. Somehow I can't believe that all of them are fully booked year round and guests are complaining to Tourism Whistler that they won't come back to Whistler because there aren't enough B&Bs (maybe not enough inexpensive accommodation units but that's a different story). Further, I believe that there are a substantial additional number of properties that have the pension or B&B zoning but are not being operated as such. That tells me that the supply has exceeded the demand. If that is true, why increase the supply?