Eugenia resident asks council for short-term rental exception

A homeowner in Eugenia has asked Grey Highlands for an exemption to allow the operation of a short-term rental business in his newly built home.

At council’s regular meeting on May 29, Eugenia resident Christian Wray attended as a virtual delegation and requested that council consider giving him an exception to operate a short-term rental on his property in Eugenia on St. Arnaud Street.

Wray said he and his wife recently built a new home on their property. They are members of the Beaver Valley Ski Club and would like to be able to rent the house out on a short-term basis when they are not using it. He said he went through the application process for a short-term rental licence and discovered that his street has reached the maximum short-term rentals allowed.

Grey Highlands has a rule in place that only 15 per cent of homes on a street can be short-term accommodation (STA) rentals.

“Unfortunately we received a rejection of our application,” said Wray, who said he was informed by Grey Highlands staff that the only recourse was to approach council directly about an exception.

After receiving the delegation and discussing the request, council voted 5-2 in favour of requesting a staff report back with more information. Councillors Paul Allen and Dan Wickens were opposed.

“My concern is if we allow one, we’ll get nine other requests,” said Allen.

During the discussion, municipal staff told council the STA licensing program will be reviewed with some recommended changes coming for council to consider in the near future. Staff said one change they are contemplating is moving away from the street density limitation of STA licences to a neighbourhood/zone system. Staff said if that system was in place, the application from Wray would have been approved.

“We have realized it should be less focused on the street and more focused on a neighbourhood,” said Michele Harris, director of community and economic development.

Allen also questioned the need for a staff report on the issue. He said the 15 per cent rule is in place and only council can overrule that stipulation.

“This has come to council. Staff doesn’t have authority to make a decision. I’m wondering what the report is going to say,” said Allen.

Other members of council, however, felt a report with more information about the other STAs nearby on St. Arnaud Street would be useful. The report would also be on a future agenda, which would give the public notice that council would be looking at the possibility of granting an exemption.

“It gives council time to think about it,” said Deputy Mayor Dane Nielsen.

Harris said staff would expedite the report to have it on the agenda for council’s next meeting on June 19.

Chris Fell, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter,