Difficult times for tourism and competing Airbnbs are reasons behind a proposed subdivision on Main Street in Sicamous.
At its May 12 meeting, the District of Sicamous development and planning committee had a discussion with Paradise Motel owner Cynthia Wiley, who has proposed subdividing the 1.185 hectare property at 517 Main St. into two parcels, one of which would include the hotel, and the other a single family house that fronts Paradise Avenue.
District staff noted an application to subdvide the property was submitted in the past and turned down by council, but that Wiley was encouraged to do so again.
As part of her proposal, she will be including a variance to waive offsite servicing requirements triggered by the subdivision, including curb, gutter and sidewalk.
Wiley explained the goal would be to sell the hotel, but to date the sale has been hindered by the size of the property, including the .425- hectare parcel the single family house is on that would become a separate lot if her plans for subdivision are successful.
“People who come knocking aren’t going to pay for it,” said Wiley.
In her opening remarks, Wiley commented how tourism has been difficult in town and, after 16 years, she’d like to get out of the accommodation business. She was also critical of the Airbnbs in town and the impact they’ve had on her industry.
“We had three sledders all winter, being Sicamous’ biggest sledding year ever,” said Wiley. “So with everything in consideration, all we want to do is get a fair price.”
District development services manager Scott Beeching noted the municipality is addressing Airbnbs in the work being done on the Sicamous zoning bylaw.
After discussion on how Wiley could subdivide the property and waive the servicing requirements, the committee offered support for what was presented.
“Right now this committee is giving advice to Cynthia,” stressed Beeching, who suggested through a development variance permit, an applicant could vary the subdivision development servicing bylaw by delaying when the servicing requirements need to occur. “That is essentially what Cynthia is asking for…She’s saying she doesn’t want to do it at the subdivison stage. So they could get a variance and we can say no buildings on these properties and no improvements…until this work is done.”
One last piece of advice offered by committee chair Jeff Mallmes: “Don’t spend any money, Cynthia, until you actually get a variance permit,” to which she replied, “That’s very good advice, thank you.”
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