SCUGOG: The ex-councillor for Scugog Island’s Ward 3 has found himself in hot water this week, after a neighbourhood dispute regarding an illegal “party house” was raised to Council.
On Monday, Dec. 8, numerous residents of Spring Blvd. made a deputation to the Township’s new Council. The community members requested that councillors investigate occurrences of vandalism and rowdy neighbours in their quiet lake side enclave.
According to Bob and Sandra Spies, who took the bench to spearhead the deputation, former councillor Jim Howard and wife Brenda, who own a home located at 162 Spring Blvd., have violated local by-laws which prohibit short-term rentals and vacation homes.
“For the majority of the year, the home is rented out for periods of as little as two days and as long as one week,” said Mrs. Spies. “The property is also listed and advertised as a tourist resort business - this needs to be shut down in short order.”
The by-law violation is just the tip of the iceberg for this shoreline dispute, according to the couple. Excessive noise, vandalism, and harassment have brought the quiet street to a boiling point.
“The renters have included large groups of drunken, pot smoking, individuals - we never know who is going to move in next door to us,” Mrs. Spies told Council.
Despite multiple phone calls to the police, noise complaints, and attempts to speak to the Howards, the Spies feel that the situation will not de-escalate and that further attention needs to be paid to the property.
“After the Howard’s ignored our attempts at communication, Brenda Howard told the renters that we had phoned the police,” said Mrs. Spies. “This makes them very angry and confrontational. We’ve since been met with people vandalizing our mailboxes, walking up and down the street screaming profane insults, and threats of violence.”
The Spies spoke for the Spring Blvd. community when they explained that they hold no qualms against long-term rentals and bed and breakfast-like properties., which are in abundance on Scugog Island. However, the pair did state that the location is listed on-line as a party house which has ‘room for five cars, and beds for twelve’.
According to Scugog Township’s Director of Community Services, Don Gordon, the Spies’ presentation is quite timely, as precedence was recently set by the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) regarding the operation of short-term rental properties.
“A very similar situation occurred in the town of Blue Mountain,” said Mr. Gordon. “The OMB decided that if a by-law does not explicitly permit unregistered short-term rental businesses, then they are effectively prohibited.”
Staff were directed by Mayor Tom Rowett to attain legal input on the matter, and confirm the best method of action.
“One would hope that, if there were legal grounds to take action, the homeowners would just cease the operation of their rental property,” said Mr. Gordon.