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Kawartha Lakes looking at regulation options for short-term rental properties

DAN CEARNS, The Standard

KAWARTHA LAKES: City of Kawartha Lakes council is expected to continue conversations on the potential regulation of short-term rental properties next week.

Short-term rental properties can include Airbnbs and VRBOs (Vacation Rentals by Owner).

At a lengthy meeting on Tuesday, April 4th, councillors saw an update presentation on the issue by Aaron Sloan, the City’s Manager of Municipal Law Enforcement and Licensing, as well as heard numerous deputations on both sides of the issue from residents and property owners.

“Short-term rentals are a very popular discussion in this municipality right now,” Manager Sloan told Councillors.

He noted there is “a negative perception” around these types of properties and stated there “is some angst with everybody involved.”

Manager Sloan stressed the city’s goal in tackling this issue is “keeping Kawartha Lakes as a place of destination for everybody to enjoy.”

The City of Kawartha Lakes has been studying this issue since 2017. What complicates this issue is no municipality’s strategy to tackle this issue is overly similar to another.

“There are many different models. So, it’s really not one shoe that fits everything. So, suggesting [the] regulation is difficult,” Manager Sloan said.

Cheryl Redfern, a resident who lives near a short-term rental property, told councillors she lives with the constant fear of “never knowing if I’m safe or not.”

Suzanne Alden argued if a property is “owned by a corporation with an absentee owner, it is, in effect, a hotel,” and the rules for commercial properties should apply to that residence.

Afe Helleman said more residents don’t speak up about the issue because “people get intimidated, people get harassed, people put up with bullying [and] people put up with garbage.”

However, Ross Fogwell opined the vast majority of owners “are respective hosts” and stated he’s “never had an issue with people who stay” at his short-term rental property.

Anna Turek called it a “misconception” short-term rental properties are “causing the majority” of resident noise complaints.

With a hefty agenda ahead of them, Mayor Doug Elmslie decided discussion on a report from Manager Sloan about regulation options would be deferred to a Committee of the Whole meeting on Tuesday, April 18th.

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