More than 100 Cortes residents will most likely listen to, or read about, last night’s virtual community meeting. While fewer are logging on to the ZOOM calls or reading these reports in Cortes Currents, the number of people listening to the podcasts has doubled, growing from 21 to 43 since these meetings went public. Similar numbers most likely listened to the radio broadcast or will read Director Noba Anderson’s report in the Tideline. The principal topics for the fifth Cortes Virtual community meeting, on April 28, were vacation rentals and a series of community updates.
Many hoping that our guest speaker, Ragina from the Regional Tenancy Branch, would clear up the questions concerning summer rentals, are most likely disappointed.
In the last meeting, Director Anderson played an audio clip in which another information officer from Regional Tenancy Branch, Sarah, said landlords can rent their units out during the winter and also use them as vacation rentals during the summer, if the landlord and winter tenant sign an RTB1 form. Either the landlord, or a relative of his/her’s, must then occupy the unit for an unspecified length of time.
Asked for clarification, Sarah reiterated “There is no time frame proscribed for using that section of the tenancy agreement.”(31:07-13 of podcast accessible through this link ).
Last night, Ragina said, “It’s only for landlord use, or a close family member, that can occupy the unit and it can’t be a short term occupation, it has to be six months or more.”
What About Box E of Form RBT1?
Director Anderson asked, “That is unless box E in this certain form ( RTB1) is signed by both parties, is that correct?”
“There is no separate form, it is right in the tenancy agreement. This section was completely taken out, there are no exceptions to the section,” said Ragina.
She conceded that while it may be possible to use a unit occupied during the winter for summer vacation rentals, if both landlord and previous tenant agree, “if it goes to arbitration, the arbitrator will definitely make a decision based on what is in the act.”
Director Anderson asked “Can a landlord rent their property for say eight months of the year, and then, with the prior consent of the tenant, evict them for short term vacation rentals, not their own use?”
“No,” said Ragina.
“So the only way to legitimately use your property for vacation rentals is to either move out yourself, or to not have had a tenant over the winter,” said Anderson.
Asked the question again, in a slightly different manner, Regina replied, “It has to be for landlord use of property only, it can’t be for a short term. It has to be a landlord use of property , or a close family member … They can’t just move in for a short term and re-rent it.”
She conceded that it might be possible if the summer tenant and the previous winter tenant are the same person.
“In any circumstances a landlord and a tenant can always sign a mutual tenancy agreement. As the name suggests, ‘mutual – which means both parties agree. They can sign that. That ends the tenancy completely, there are no strings attached,” concluded Ragina. But: “If it is going to be a different (summer) tenant, a different tenancy agreement and an increase in rent, this may not be in compliance with the act. It will have to be the arbitrator’s decision on that.”
(Ragina talks about a number of rental issues in 3:19- 21:45 of the podcast above)
After Ragina logged off, Director Anderson proceeded to make a number of updates:
- “Two weeks ago the topic was on how to see wellness as a community and a couple of people from that call asked that I host a call with all the health and wellness practitioners on the island. So I did that on Friday (Apr 24, 2020) … It ended up being more of a circle share among practitioners: where are you at? where are your clients at?” Some were busier than ever. Others, especially those whose trade required physical contact, were completely out of work. They will meet again, in a few days, before reporting to the larger community.
- Director Anderson is consulting with the island’s non profits as to how to use this year’s $25,000 Grant-In Aid allotment from the Strathcona Regional District. “I’ve been grappling with how to make this a more democratic process for many years …. [and decided] whatever the non-profit sector comes up with as a recommendation for grant-in-aid spending allocation this year … I will take that recommendation to the Regional District.”
- The Cortes Island Community Foundation hosted a call with the social profit sector (non profits plus businesses like the Food Co-op and Community Forest that have a broad membership). They decided the priority topics are “mental health in general, youth in particular (well being, participation and engagement) and food security.
Cortes Island Family Support Update
Desta Beattie, Coordinator for Cortes Island Family Support gave a summary on the work that she and Mary Lavelle. for the Southern Cortes Community Association, have been doing:
- If there is a need, they are ready to hire someone to help people working with navigating the various government programs and rollout that are available. If anyone has a need for this, call the hall at 250-935-0015 or email Desta at email@example.com. (CCEDA is helping businesses)
- A generous donor has offered to give the Cortes Food Bank $1,000 per month for the next three months, if we can find a matching donor. “It will help us put fresh local produce in the food hampers that go out on the island.” There has been another $800 in donations since the last meeting.
- Family Support and Seniors Helping Seniors are partnering in a survey being sent out to seniors.
Cortes Email Groups
Ayton Novak has set up a special website for Cortes Island email groups. Cortes Connects “is a single ecosystem for group emails on Cortes. Any number of email subgroups can be created, private or public, organized around neighbourhoods, organizations, projects, interests, you name it!”
There are already restricted email lists (ie you have to apply to join) for the Smelt Bay Neighbourhood, Deathcare and Family support.
Good Things That Have Happened
As a result of the COVID crises, worldwide alcohol purchases have risen 50%, the number of suicides is expected to increase, in China the number of divorce filings has risen, but Director Anderson asked if anything good has happened as a result of this crises. These are some of the responses:
- Some people have more time to spend in their children, nature and gardens.
- Air pollution levels are dropping all around the world, oil consumption is plummeting – all of which shows what is possible in the fight against climate change.
- We have, by necessity, learned to live more simply. “It is time to pause and think what do we need? – rather than what do we want?”