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Friday, January 27, 2022

STR working group re-established


The working group looking at Short Term Rentals (STRs) in Trent lakes will be re-established to review components of a licensing by-law and provide a draft by-law for council.

An STR working group was originally established by the previous council and provided a phased in approach to the issue.  The group was disbanded after presenting a three-stage process.

The process called for Phase 1 In 2022 which included reviewing existing by laws, exploring options for after-hours enforcement, tracking and reporting STR complaints and for staff to communicate with repeat offenders.

Phase 2 covers 2023 and includes budgeting for enhanced enforcement, introducing new nuisance by-laws (noise, parking, swearing, shouting, trespassing, littering, unlawful burning or fireworks), implement an Administrative Municipal Penalty (AMP system for non-parking offences and possibly hiring a third party to prepare a list of STRs in the municipality.

Phase 3 in 2023 includes council revisiting the issue of introducing an STR licensing programs.

Barbara Waldron, Chief Building Official updated staff on what has been done so far.

Staff, she said, have put together a list of STRs in the municipality that were found on AirBnb, VRBO and Booking.com.  They found there are 146 STRs on those websites and expect this will continue to increase.

Waldron said that the municipality needs regulations that will provide expectations, regulation on numbers, the determination of when an STR is deemed to be a residential use versus a commercial use, the requirements for health and safety and environmental regulations.

She said that there have been many verbal complaints from residents, but very few written complaints.

“Many people are afraid to complain in writing because they are afraid of retaliation,” she said.

She told council that a recent Ontario Land Tribunal (OLT) hearing has provided clear distinctions between what is a STR and what is a commercial enterprise.

The working group will review the component of a short term rental licensing by-law and provide a draft by-law for council to consider as the municipality works toward implementing a by-law in 2024.

Council appointed Deputy Mayor Carol Armstrong and Councillor John Braybrook to represent council on the working group.