Enforcement is the key to Penetanguishene STR licensing bylaw

·4 min read

As the summer rental season approaches, Penetanguishene council is also getting closer to the licensing bylaws needed to handle those short-term accommodations.

During a recent committee of the whole meeting, Penetanguishene council were presented with the latest draft for the town’s upcoming short-term-rental (STR) licensing bylaw (LBL). The presentation was shared through town planner Owen Taylor, and immediately followed a discussion regarding the final comprehensive zoning bylaw (ZBL).

Key areas for the latest revisions include: a maximum occupancy of eight persons (at two persons per bedroom, including Murphy beds and pullout couches); non-transferable annual licenses for property owners; a renter’s code of conduct for owner and guests; and a case-by-case evaluated ‘three-strikes’ rule over a six-month span regarding complaints or notices of non-compliance which could result in a revoked license.

“The existing ZBL does not define or regulate STR,” explained Taylor regarding the LBL, “and the provisions of the clean yards bylaw, the noise bylaw, as well as the Ontario Building Code are the primary tools currently utilized by staff to regulate those uses.”

Staff looked to council for direction regarding licensing fees, as the main discussion revolved around adequate means of enforcing any bylaws.

Coun. Brian Cummings noted that most complaints occurred at night over STR infractions.

“Have we contacted the OPP regarding calls-for-service for these types of events?” asked Cummings. “Because I know not one officer ever goes; there’s always four… and we’re now being charged for calls-for-service.”

Taylor replied that contacting the OPP for input along with their response would be provided in the next report.

Coun. George Vadeboncoeur provided informal calculations on the cost of paying for enforcement, and openly asked who would be paying: the residents or the STR operators.

“At $500, a licensing fee between 78 STR – which I’ve heard that number – that generates $39,000 in income,” noted Vadeboncoeur. “We know in terms of wages, if we’re going to hire a municipal law enforcement officer and maybe a licensing officer, how much that’s going to cover to enforce this bylaw.

“I think as a council, we really need to wrestle with that in terms of: Who’s going to pay the cost of this enforcement regime?” added Vadeboncoeur. “This is very critical to the success of this bylaw. We pass a bylaw we have no enforcement – as Coun. Cummings used to say – the bylaw’s not worth the paper it’s written on.”

Coun. Debbie Levy suggested that a dispatching service for full-day response could be implemented, similar to licensing bylaws within the town of South Bruce Peninsula; Vadeboncoeur also cautioned toward who would pay that additional cost.

Coun. Dan LaRose inquired to the origin of eight maximum occupants, and was informed by Taylor that it was part of the original proposal.

Mayor Doug Leroux considered potential abuse of occupancy a concern.

“I happen to live in an area where I’m not too far from one of these AirBnbs that have been one of the troublesome ones,” Leroux shared. “I live there and I sit on my veranda, and I saw one weekend where there was up to 14 people in that house. And the party was on.

“I still maintain that the number eight, it should be limited, period. No more than eight.”

Council directed staff to explore fees for licensing and return for another discussion at a later meeting, noting that the word ‘final’ be reverted to ‘next’ within the motion.

“It’s a complicated subject,” admitted Vadeboncoeur. “I think it’s going to take some time to work with this one and get it right, from council’s perspective.

Further information can be found on the short-term-rentals page of the Connect Penetanguishene website.

The draft comprehensive short term rental licensing bylaw report can be located on the agenda page of the Town of Penetanguishene website.

Meetings of Penetanguishene council are held on the second Wednesday of each month, and can be watched live on Rogers TV cable 53, or on the Rogers TV website.

Archives of council meetings are located on the Town of Penetanguishene YouTube channel.

Derek Howard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, MidlandToday.ca

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