Short-term rental by-law coming before council

Marmora and Lake - Staff have been directed by council to prepare a short-term rental by-law.

Staff presented a short-term accommodation report to council at its June 4 meeting and four different recommendations for consideration.

Over the past few months, the issue of short-term rentals, with emphasis on properties operating under the booking website ‘Airbnb’, has been a topic of discussion around the council table.

The municipality has several lakefront properties operating as vacation homes under the Airbnb name. Visitors can book the accommodation online as they would with a hotel and choose to rent rooms, shared accommodations with the homeowner, or rent fully-furnished homes or cottages that are remotely managed by the property owner.

Deputy Mayor Mike Stevens first spoke about short-term rentals at the March 5 meeting of council, stating he’d heard concerns about lakefront accommodations with relation to noise, large-scale events and garbage.

At that time, council requested staff keep a log of complaints related to Airbnb properties and report back to council with recommendation.

At the June 4 meeting, Chief Building Official Matt deJong presented his report along with Manager of Economic Development, Megan Abraham.

deJong provided four different options for council’s consideration:

1) That council direct staff to maintain the existing bylaws with relation to noise and short-term rental
2) That council direct staff to bring forward a new noise bylaw for council’s consideration
3) That council direct staff to bring forward a basic short-term rental bylaw
4) That council direct staff to bring forward an extensive short-term rental bylaw

deJong advised council that there have been no complaints on record thus far about short-term rentals, adding there are a number of things to consider with the implementation of a short-term rental bylaw, including cost.

With respect to Economic Development, Abraham told council it may be detrimental to restrict how short-term rental properties can operate.

“If council decides to put restrictions around Airbnbs it may have some benefit in that it will give us more control and it would promote only serious, responsible Airbnb hosts,” she said. “However I fear that it may really limit our accommodations here and encourage property owners and/or renters to venture to surrounding municipalities where there’s last red tape.”

Abraham told council it’s the goal of Hastings County to promote Airbnb properties as there are limited accommodation opportunities for tourists, however the county wants to ensure operators are following municipal regulations and operating in a responsible manner.

Council expressed it may be beneficial to draft a basic short-term bylaw in hopes that property owners will enforce it with the people renting their properties. Council passed a motion to have deJong draft a bylaw and return at a future meeting for it to be passed.

Council also passed a motion to have the noise bylaw changed from midnight to 11 p.m.

Megan AbrahamComment