In the fall of 2021, Council asked District staff to provide an analysis of how development might unfold in Ucluelet over the next 30 years, based on low, medium and high growth forecasts. The town is experiencing a boom in real-estate prices and building activity, driven by a number of factors. There is a shortage of housing available for residents at all price points, making secure affordable housing a real challenge for many households. Public feedback took place on the possible growth forecasts, and Ucluelet’s residents were clear on the value of Ucluelet’s existing community feel and character. Under a high growth scenario, Ucluelet’s population would reach 4,900 by 2050, with 1427 new tourist accommodation units and 2,674 new residential dwellings. Under a medium growth scenario, Ucluelet’s population would reach 3,100 by 2050, with 563 new tourist accommodation units and 1,482 new residential dwellings.
Based on public feedback, the high priority put on maintaining Ucluelet’s rural and close-knit character and the value to community members of keeping the current community feel of Ucluelet, Council opted to plan for a “Low(ish) Growth Scenario”. This meant planning towards a more balanced tourist ratio of 40% tourist accommodation to 60% residential, and a 2050 permanent population of 2,600. To achieve this growth scenario would mean, by 2050, a total of 2,150 Residential Dwellings (including the 1010 dwellings in place in December 2021), and a total of 1,150 Total Tourist Accommodations (including the 815 in place in December 2021).
However, all the growth scenarios assumed no additional short-term B&B units from the Fall of 2021. There have not yet been regulations put into place to prevent the creation of new B&B units in Ucluelet’s residential zones. As the profitability of these uses have grown, driving soaring house prices, secondary suite conversions, and increasing commercialization of homes, the number of B&B units in Ucluelet has grown significantly. Since the “Low-ish Growth Scenario” was adopted in December 2021, the District has recorded 105 new or in-process B&B units (+ 0.81 Black Rocks). This means that of the 335 potential new Tourist Accommodations which could be accommodated under the “Low-ish Growth Scenario”, there remains only 230 total tourist accommodations which could still be built by 2050 to stay within the desired growth pattern.
In plain terms, almost a third of the allowable tourist accommodations which can be built in the next 28 years for the community to stay in a “Low-ish Growth Scenario” have now already been built or are being built with B&B uses alone.
The 105 new B&B’s licensed or in-progress since Fall 2021 represents a potential 210 additional visitors to Ucluelet staying in residential neighbourhoods. Without regulation of B&B uses in residential zones, this is a trend which is likely to continue as more development occurs. The addition of these tourist accommodations are currently unregulated by Council, and occur without any opportunity for input from neighbourhood residents. Using a conservative estimate of 50 new B&B units per year in residential areas, Ucluelet could have 480 B&B units, representing up to 960 tourists staying in residential neighbourhoods in five years, over three times the number currently in operation. This represents an additional challenge to ensure more workers are available in Ucluelet to service tourist needs while long-term housing options for these workers is decreasing.