The report came forward at Council’s request following a petition and correspondence received from the public over the summer of 2017. Residents and homeowner associations spoke to Council regarding their concerns about safety, noise and nuisance resulting from recent short term rentals in their areas on Pigeon, View and Scugog lakes.
Staff researched the issue of short term residential rentals, being rentals of 30 days or less, and reviewed the regulatory frameworks implemented by other municipalities. Some municipalities that enjoy a large tourism industry, such as Blue Mountains and Whistler, BC, regulate short term residential rentals from a nuisance prevention and consumer protection standpoint. In large urban centres, such as Toronto and Vancouver, short term residential rentals are regulated as a way to ensure adequate and affordable housing in inflated and understocked rental markets.
According to Stats Canada(1), private home and cottage rentals account for 70% of overnight visits to Kawartha Lakes. These rentals are filling a need as our roofed accommodations are typically at capacity during the peak season, and waterfront accommodations are limited.
Further, visitors who stay in short term home and cottage rentals typically stay longer and spend more dollars in our communities by visiting attractions, restaurants and retail businesses.
In 2017 to date, Municipal Law Enforcement has received a total of 6 inquiry calls specifically regarding short term residential rentals and approximately 1 call per week regarding by-law violations at rental cottages. Residents are encouraged to call the police and fire department if there are issues pertaining to existing noise or fire by-laws. Nuisance calls pertaining to property by laws are to be reported to the Municipal Law Enforcement division.
“We’re looking to do some further consultation so we can find a balance between protecting our seasonal residents, putting regulations in place that we can reasonably enforce and ensuring that we aren’t negatively affecting our tourism economy,” Mayor Letham. Any regulatory by-law would need to be applied to the entire City, not just specific areas. The implementation of a pro-active, regulatory by-law for only short term rentals could result in the need for an additional seasonal or full time enforcement staff member. Any other feasible alternatives will be explored and reported back to Council next year.
(1) Stats Canada, Travel Survey of the Residents of Canada 2014, International Travel Survey 2014, Ontario Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport.