Tiny ponders long-term solution for 'unacceptable' short-term rentals

·3 min read

A detailed deputation about short term rentals (STRs) and zoning bylaw definitions was given by Tiny resident Steve Saltsman to council last week, preceding a much-discussed staff report made in preparation for an STR task force.

Saltsman provided a lengthy, in-depth presentation including numerous legal cases, which cited comparisons between Tiny’s already established zoning bylaw (ZBL) definitions with those from across Ontario and the country.

At one point, Saltsman brought up council’s interest in allowing the STRs to operate through legal non-conforming use.

“And before you answer that question, recall my particular situation where I had 77 advertised vacancies well within a 1-kilometre radius of my home; 38 of those within 300 yards. That’s the equivalent of a 40-room hotel, and that’s unacceptable.”

Coun. Tony Mintoff commended Saltsman for his well-researched deputation and recommended he consider joining the STR task force, a sentiment deputy mayor Steffan Walma and Coun. Gibb Wishart also echoed.

“I would trade all the STRs for that 40-room hotel in a nanosecond,” said Wishart, emphasizing that he wasn’t joking. His reasoning was that it would be properly zoned, hotel staff would be present, and guests would have empathy for the noises and messes.

Following last month’s council meeting which sent Tiny staff to look into other municipalities’ ZBL and potential regulations for STRs, a list was compiled from previous reports by staff to provide context for decisions regarding a new zoning bylaw in Tiny.

“The majority of municipalities are looking at both zoning and licensing as a joint regulation framework,” said director of planning and development Shawn Persaud of staff’s recommendation, in a presentation which followed Saltsman’s deputation.

Coun. Mintoff wanted to clarify a point made by Persaud toward council’s previous direction to look at bylaws in disregard to zoning.

“My recollection,” said Mintoff, “is that the reason we went down that route was because we were advised by staff that the zoning route wouldn’t be an appropriate one to take. We’re not changing directions here; I think we’ve pivoted because of the information that we’ve received from people, including Mr. Saltsman.”

Jamie Robinson, of MHBC Planning Urban Design & Landscape Architecture, spoke to the STRs as an evolving issue beyond the county level, adding that STRs go hand-in-hand with zoning and possible licensing.

Mintoff piggybacked one of Saltsman’s points, asking Robinson that if dedicated STRs were termed commercial ventures in residential areas, what pitfalls would be faced to “clean the slate right off” and have STRs apply through a process which council decided upon.

“It seems to me,” Mintoff explained, “we could say ‘sorry, you’ve been doing this illegally based on our existing zoning bylaw, and we don’t have to recognize you as legal non-conforming because you were never conforming in the first place’.”

Robinson responded that it was a key area of exploration for staff, pointing out that there is a tipping point between what is considered commercial versus residential which, as an example, could be affected by whether the owner lives in the single-detached dwelling or not.

The STR task force composition was discussed, with agreement that it would be comprised of four non-elected citizen members being two STR property owners and two non-STR property owners, two elected members who were later chosen as Coun. Mintoff and Coun. Cindy Hastings, and CAO Robert Lamb as chair; staff representation would include bylaw, planning, and fire department personnel.

“I serve at the will of council,” replied Lamb, “and am more than happy to do what I need to do.” He did request that council receive an updated legal opinion and detailed planning report prior to next month’s meeting to inform the task force selection process.

Schedules for Tiny meetings are available on the council section of the township website. Meetings are streamed live and archived on the township of Tiny YouTube channel.

Derek Howard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, MidlandToday.ca

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