More than 1,500 people responded to a County of Haliburton survey on short-term rentals, consultants J.L. Richards and Associates Ltd. told County council May 25.
They said the first of two surveys – focused on gathering community perspectives and their interactions with short-term rentals – was “well received.” The survey ran from April 3-25.
Report authors Gursimran Saini and Tori Ruck said they would use the information to guide a second round of consultation with County-identified stakeholders.
“The second round will focus more on the different ways on how to address the issues associated with short-term rentals,” they said. In their report, they said the County has to balance advancements in the tourism industry, via websites such as Airbnb and VRBO, with the need to create a regulatory framework “to manage these new age vacation rentals.”
They also said it is largely a municipal responsibility. Currently, short-term rentals are not addressed in the County’s official plan.
In the report, the consultants reviewed what’s been written about short-term rentals and looked at what nine other Canadian municipalities are doing.
Speaking to the literature review, they concluded, “generally, the research indicates that full-time, entire homes and multi listings are the underlying cause of various issues associated with STRs such as constriction of long-term rental markets and competition to traditional hospitality industry.
“Further, Combs, Kerrigan and Wachsmuth (2019) conclude that STRs are growing faster, concentrating faster, and removing housing from the long-term market faster in rural areas and CAs (Census Agglomerations) than in CMAs (Census Metropolitan Areas). This finding is important in context of the efforts to manage STR in Haliburton County, indicating foresight and a well-rounded approach is necessary in all relevant policy decisions.”
They looked at Blue Mountains; Whistler; Huntsville; Niagara-on-the-Lake; Lake of Bays; Prince Edward County; Vancouver; Kingston and Brampton for comparators.
Closer to Haliburton County, Blue Mountains regulates short-term rentals. They have a licensing application fee of $55; and two-year licensing for approximately $2,300 plus inspection fees. They have rules about density, occupancy, parking, landscaping, amenity space, health and safety. They also have a demerit point systems for various infractions by operators and guests, with licenses revoked if too many points are issued, and fines of up to $2,500.
Huntsville regulates the industry with an application fee of $55 and licencing fees of $500 to $750 with annual renewal fees. They also regulate occupancy, parking, and apply a municipal accommodation tax of four per cent.
Lake of Bays regulates via licensing, with three categories of fees, occupancy, parking and other considerations, such as setbacks.
“The best practices … have been adopted by various municipalities based on the local context … all municipalities contain general provisions in their relevant bylaws that require conformity of the units with other applicable regulations such as waste management bylaws, building code, fire code and noise bylaw,” the report stated.
“Additionally, there is a requirement of site plan, floor plan, parking management plan and emergency exit plan, together with site inspections to get [an] STR license in many municipalities. A responsible person who can respond to concern or complaints within a pre-determined amount of time is also a noted requirement in STR legislations.”
However, the planners also noted that the municipality of Collingwood, for example, does not permit short-term rentals, except in the form of bed and breakfast establishments.
Ultimately, they said it would be up to County councillors which direction the portfolio goes.
Referring to the first survey, they said, “there are several conflicting opinions regarding this topic, and we understand it can be a controversial one. This report is merely a summary of the comments received and is not indicative of the County’s or consultants’ position on the topic.”
See more in next week’s Highlander about what was decided at the meeting.