Lisa Gervais: Local solutions for short-term rentals
|By Lisa Gervais - Editor | July 19 2018|
Last summer, representatives of the Lake Kashagawigamog Organization (LKO) wrote to Minden Hills council to complain about short-term rentals. They believe individuals and corporations are renting out lakefront properties contrary to bylaws. President Gary Wiles wrote that they had two concerns: the potential for overuse of septic systems and improper shoreline alterations, such as docking, to make units more renter-friendly. They argued that two to four-bedroom cottages were being advertised on cottage rental sites for 12-18 people. Wiles said it used to be people would rent their places for a couple of weeks each summer to help offset costs, but now some are renting year-round.
It is a worry when Minden Hills council is currently struggling to develop a septic re-inspection program and at a time when the Coalition of Haliburton Property Owners’ Association (CHA) continues to worry about the health of area lakes.
When the LKO complaint came to Minden Hills council last Sept. 28, they accepted it as information only. But, Mayor Brent Devolin said once the county’s Official Plan was passed (and it now has been), they’d be looking into it.
At the time, Devolin said it was an “unbelievably complicated” area of planning but vowed it would be part of a serious conversation in a year’s time. He anticipated lots of input from interest groups and cottage associations.
True to their word, Minden Hills will open the public conversation on the morning of Saturday, July 21, with an open house at the community centre. This is where cottage associations, such as the LKO, can formally express their concerns. We would also encourage those who do rent out their cottages for short-term periods to attend. We know that they have a vested economic interest. It would also be good to know what sort of income the short-term rental industry brings to the township. After all, those 12-18 people need to eat, drink, gas up and play while they’re here. Both those against, and in favour of, short-term rentals have to come to the party in other words. We’d like to hear from the renters how they can regulate their rentals to protect our septics and lakes.
And, it is important to note that this conversation isn’t just happening in Minden Hills. Last year, you might remember, Dysart reached out to Ulrik Binzer, the founder and CEO of Host Compliance, a Silicon Valley-based technology company that specializes in short-term rental compliance monitoring technology for local governments. In a nutshell, his company designs software to help identify the short-term rental properties, register them, log complaints and ensure taxes are being paid. They struck a task force. Checking in with CAO Tamara Wilbee, she told us they’re still researching options, and have been reviewing IHost compliance.
Algonquin Highlands Mayor Carol Moffatt also raised the issue with her council in February 2017. They’ve decided to watch what others are doing and address it when their zoning amendment occurs later this year or early next year.
Highlands East CAO Shannon Hunter told us they’ll be presenting a draft bylaw at the August council meeting and council intends to schedule a public meeting.
So, we would encourage a good turnout at the July 21 meeting. We hope the public comes with suggestions, so it doesn’t just become a pro short-term rental versus anti short-term rental debate. After all, there should be made-in-Haliburton County solutions to the short-term rental issue.
Lisa Gervais is the editor for The Highlander.