A bylaw “to license, regulate, and govern short-term rental accommodations” was passed by Penetanguishene council this week, giving the municipality “the teeth” it needs for enforcement in 2023.
At a recent regular meeting of council, a staff memo provided updates and 'redline' revisions to the proposed short-term rental (STR) licensing bylaw set to come into effect for next year. The memo followed comments from the August meeting in which members of council maintained reservations that aspects of the proposed bylaw wouldn’t be enough to deter poor STR operators or guests.
Coun. George Vadeboncoeur spoke to the changes at the meeting.
“(In the staff memo), 34 issues were identified by the public and by members of council, with respect to the short-term rental licensing bylaw. 12 changes were made to the bylaw to incorporate suggestions that were made,” said Vadeboncoeur.
“A number of items were already covered in existing bylaws such as regulating fireworks, regulating property standards… those would be addressed.
“There are 16 fine categories in the bylaw; 13 of those 16 fine categories have been increased. That was a request that council had made… that we wanted the fines to increase to act as a deterrent,” he added.
Some changes noted in the proposed licensing bylaw involved a guest room definition to “not include any tent, trailer, boat, or any other similar structure," an increase to the definition of a nuisance, and several added licensing requirements.
Penalty provisions further defined new offences for contraventions, parties and events under the renter’s code of conduct include many new items, various application fees received monetary increases, and overall fines went up. Whereas it was formerly proposed that operation without a license would receive a $1,000 fine, the revision increased that to $2,000.
While all council members who spoke gave thanks to staff for their hard work in presenting the bylaw and changes, it was Coun. Dan La Rose who raised a voice against the entire endeavour.
“As everybody knows, I’ve opposed it,” said La Rose. “I’m glad staff did what they did, but I’ll still be opposing it.
“I look out here tonight and say we’ve got all this council time, all this staff time, all the legal fees… all of this for the purpose of what? It does absolutely nothing for our town. We’re spending money, we’re going sideways. Scrap the whole thing, don’t bother having them period. We’d be way better off.”
Deputy Mayor Anita Dubeau directly disagreed with La Rose.
“I think we need the proper tools in place to respond to that small percentage of people that are making life miserable for others. We need the tools in place to be able to go to the party houses, to those individuals who are renting to too many people and are having too many guests. I think this bylaw is going to be able to give us the tools to do that.,” said Dubeau.
Coun. Jill St. Amant stated, “It is imperative that a licensing bylaw be implemented so that parameters are established to go ahead, and get all of those bylaws up and operations in order.”
Coun. Brian Cummings gave his approval, having been a vocal scrutineer to the proposed bylaws previously.
“I’ve been saying that we’re not ready yet to enforce these bylaws, and (to) give some more teeth to them,” said Cummings. “After reading the updates to this bylaw, I think we are ready. I think we are still able to tweak this once it comes into effect but I think we are ready at this point to start enforcing this bylaw and have it come into place.”
Council accepted the staff memo, and minutes later the full bylaw was read and carried.
Further information can be found on the short-term rentals page of the Connect Penetanguishene website.
The full short-term rental licensing bylaw 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