The number of authorized short-term rentals on Gabriola remains steady from this time last year as does the number of compliance and enforcement files.
As of May 12, there were 12 open files in the Gabriola Local Trust Area related to short-term vacation rentals (STVRs). Four have received fines, according to Islands Trust staff. On April 28, 2021 there were 13 open files for Gabriola.
Currently in the Gabriola LTA there are five active temporary use permits for STVRs with two applications in process.
Across the Trust Area, there are 142 open STVR bylaw compliance and enforcement files versus 160 last April.
Last July, the Islands Trust hired a third full-time bylaw officer. Following the new hire, 44 STVR files were opened Trust-wide, eight of them in the Gabriola LTA.
Leading up to last summer, Islands Trust staff said they anticipated an uptick in the number of enforcement files following the hiring of a new bylaw officer; however, Islands Trust has not been working with a full complement of officers since the hire.
“Despite hiring a new officer, staff turnover has meant that we have been fully staffed for only four months since then,” Clare Frater, director of Trust Area Services said. During that four months, Frater said three bylaw officers spent several days on Salt Spring Island, where there are the highest number of files, enforcing STVR bylaws.
One of the challenges with recruiting and retaining staff is competitive wages.
“Generally, we do have trouble competing for bylaw enforcement officers with other jurisdictions,” Frater said, noting municipal government pay rates tend to be higher. The starting wage for a union-position bylaw enforcement officer working for the Islands Trust is $30.68 per hour. A May 12 posting for a permanent full-time bylaw enforcement officer in the City of Nanaimo lists a union salary of $38.19 an hour while in Campbell River a May 10 posting for a similar position is listed for $35.70 per hour.
Rachelle Stein-Wotten, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Gabriola Sounder