Highlands East is planning to move forward with short-term rental regulations after a majority of survey respondents said they wanted them.
Approximately 62 per cent of the 340 people who replied to a municipal survey indicated they want regulations implemented. Council voted at its Oct. 8 meeting to post the survey results on its website and hold a working session to discuss short-term rental regulation.
“We should move forward with drafting something of that nature,” Coun. Suzanne Partridge said.
The short-term rental questionnaire offered a series of questions about people’s experience with rentals and what type of regulations, if any, the municipality should apply. The survey was released in July and closed in August.
Respondents were split on whether they experienced or observed shortterm renters exhibiting unwanted behaviours, with 178, or 52.66 per cent answering no and 158 answering yes. The question received 171 comments mostly related to negative experiences, ranging from noise complaints to improper waste disposal.
In contrast, one comment said complaints are not necessarily unique to short-term rentals.
“I have seen all of the above issues at cottages when the owners are present,” the comment said. “I have never seen a STR (short-term rental) have any of these issues.”
Deputy Mayor Cec Ryall said he agreed a short-term rental bylaw should come forward, but it should not delve far into issues covered by other bylaws, such as noise.
“Those kinds of issues that would apply to anyone and not just rental people,” Ryall said.
Respondents spoke positively about short-term rentals in other questions, with 66 per cent of respondents indicating they play a positive role in economic development. Most respondents did not feel short-term rentals hurt traditional accommodations (53 per cent) or long-term housing availability (57 per cent).
The largest category of respondents were people who live next to short-term rentals, at 40 per cent. Approximately 20 per cent of respondents offered short-term rentals, broken down further by how long they rented their property. Approximately 28 per cent of responders answered “other.”
Ryall said the council working session should also include information from other municipalities that have addressed the issue.
“If we’re going to do this, we’re going to do it right,” he said.