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Cumberland considers changing vacation rental regulations to improve housing

With tourism growing and housing becoming less available and more expensive, the Village of Cumberland may make changes to improve long-term housing to the area.

A number of recommendations have been made by panels and committees in the village. The Advisory Planning Commission, Homelessness and Affordable Housing Committee, and Economic Steering and Development Committee released their recommendations for council.

The proposed changes are still being discussed by the village and committees. A brief rundown of potential changes are as follows:

  • Having a principal resident live on the vacation rental property, which could be a tenant or owner.
  • Limit the number of bedrooms on a property to three, with a maximum of six guests
  • Limit the number of rentable units to one dwelling (if there are two separate dwelling units, only one can be used for rentals)
  • Have at least one parking space per vacation rental bedroom
  • Make business licence displays mandatory on advertisements or promotions
  • Post a decent sign that has the vacation rental name and contact information of the owner

The committees did not support having a cap on the number of rentals in the town or on a block.

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Cumberland mayor Leslie Baird said any changes wouldn’t be solidified until September as more items need to be talked about.

She added the changes are being considered because of housing availability and illegal rental businesses running in zones they are not allowed to.

“We have quite a few that have not got business licences and they are actually doing them in areas that they shouldn’t be doing them, that they’re not zoned for,” said Baird. “So this is to get everybody in line to do it legally.”

She adds that housing availability has shrunk in recent years, and maintaining a housing stock is vital to the community.

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An impact on local tourism could potentially be expected, according to Baird. But she says the changes would promote community growth and having larger communities nearby would minimize the impact.

“The disadvantage of vacation rentals is they do not become part of the community,” she said. “But we also realize people want to come and stay here.”

“With our close proximity to Courtenay, there are places there that people can rent and also there’s bed and breakfasts in the rest of the valley.”

She adds the changes would allow for workers to live in Cumberland and work from home and hopefully drop the price to make things more affordable.

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The process is long and it will take some time to get things sorted and ready to go, she said. 

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