HE tackles short-term rentals
|By Lisa Gervais - Editor | Aug 9 2018|
On the Sunday of the holiday weekend, the people renting the cottage next door to me decided to set off a grand fireworks display.
For them, I guess it marked their last night at the cottage. For me, it was loud and smoky. For my cats, it was terrifying. And, for the dry and towering pine trees on my property, not to mention the crunchy weeds and grass, it was a real concern.
As I went outside to check that nothing was on fire, and to see if I could find one of the cats who had been outside when the sound and light show went off, I was slowly simmering.
I’m no fan of fireworks at the best of times, but when we have extreme fire conditions, these renters had my blood boiling.
On Monday morning, I sent a text to the people who rent out the place next door. I expressed my concerns and they were sympathetic and agreed it wasn’t a good idea that said renters had let off fireworks in a residential neighbourhood that is struggling with drought-like conditions. They said they’d ensure the no fireworks rule was added to their rules and regulations.
In this case, I, as a resident, was dealing with both sets of people who do not live in Haliburton County – the renters and the people next door who exclusively lease their cottage all summer long. It is instances like this that have sparked a countywide call for some action on short-term rentals.
Highlands East is the first municipality to formally tackle the dilemma with a proposed short-term rental accommodation licensing bylaw coming to its last council meeting.
They created a task group to investigate solutions to complaints but didn’t want to eliminate short-term rentals altogether, since they recognize they’re vital to the township’s economic prosperity.
But, they also agreed that regulations need to be implemented to address things such as zoning infractions, noise, parking, building deficiencies, health and safety, and environmental.
The task group had representatives from a cottage rental agency, an AIRBNB owner, residents affected by short-term accommodations, two members of council and CBO Laurie Devolin.
The licencing will allow the municipality to implement standards requiring all shortterm accommodations to be properly zoned, follow noise bylaw restrictions, establish parking arrangements, address building concerns, limit accommodations to number of bedrooms, and in some cases, number of rental units, ensure septic is adequate and address fire safety and emergency planning.
They have also formerly enshrined that short-term accommodations is a rental less than 28 days and that licences will be for three years at a cost of $300. In addition, maximum occupancy will be two people per bedroom plus an additional two.
There’ll also be a demerit point system for infractions, and a committee will be formed to address non- compliance. A draft guide and publications are being worked on to coincide with the STA licencing bylaw to be more user-friendly.
We encourage the other lower-tier municipalities to have a good look at Highlands East’s draft plan. What they’ve come up works for Highlands East, but it might not work for Dysart, Minden Hills or Algonquin Highlands.
It is up to each of those townships to pull together the information they’ve gleaned from their stakeholders thus far, and come up with their own rules and regulations.
At the end of the day, it is the communities themselves – and the people that live there – that have to decide how short-term rentals can be accommodated in our future.
Lisa Gervais is the editor for The Highlander.