Loyalist Township to examine short term accommodation regulations

Municipal building in background with red township van parked in front.
Motion carried at virtual May 23 council meeting while Municipal Office remains in renovation. Photo by Ted Evans.
Ted Evans - CJAI - StellaON | 25-05-2023
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The Loyalist Township is looking into potential zoning by-law regulations regarding short term accommodations (STAs) as the township currently does not have any regulations regarding STAs.

A motion that will see staff further review and report back on regulations pertaining to STAs, as well as monitoring complaints, was passed at the May 23 Loyalist Township council meeting.

STAs are all, or a portion of a dwelling, that is rented for periods of less than 30 days. Common booking sites include airBnB and Vacation Rental by Owner (VRBO). STAs have presented a wide variety of challenges for municipalities over the last several years, which has resulted in many of those municipalities regulating their use.

Common challenges associated with STAs include issues related to garbage, noise, and parking. Coun. Carol Parks also noted health and safety concerns exist as well.

"Recently, in Montreal, there was a fire in a short term rental situation and there was no governing body or legislation in place that allowed people to be identified; the people that perished in the fires. So I do have some safety concerns with some of these situations," said Parks.

Challenges may also differ by municipality. For example, in cottage communities, campfires, and/or unsafe boating activities are often a concern.

Despite the challenges associated with STAs, the township's Economic Growth and Community Development Services Department recognized in their report that there are notable benefits as well. With more STAs, the township could see increased tourism opportunities.

On March 13, Loyalist Township council passed a resolution requesting a staff report on the challenges that other similar municipalities are facing in regards to STAs. Coun. Paul Proderick noted that in Gravenhurst, Ontario, STA owners must provide information so that staff have the ability to make direct contact within 30 minutes of a municipal by-law contravention or emergency.

"I like what Gravenhurst is doing with that 30-minute contact thing, because that's often what happens; you stay in an Airbnb and there's an issue, but you don't know who to contact," said Proderick.

Coun. Parks didn't agree that staff should have to report back only when complaints arise, adding that it would be a disservice to residents.

"I think we need to be proactive in this approach and not leave it until there are problems that arise," said Parks.

The motion was not amended to reflect Parks' input. As the challenges associated with STAs have not been realized locally in Loyalist Township to the extent they have been in other municipalities, the report recommended that staff monitor complaints and report back to council if complaints increase and/or adverse affects arise.

Hear the CJAI story below: