It was as much an in-depth discussion as it was a central discussion.
The conclusion of the Tiny Township Short Term Rental Task Force was a final presentation to council, after open deputations from the public as well as lively discussion afterwards.
Since last year, when a municipal law enforcement report including an investigation into short term rentals (STR) and comments was approved by council, the group’s objectives throughout were to review : the situation and impacts of STRs in the municipality; the Licensing Regulations (LBL) and Tenant Code of Conduct for reviews and feedback; and eventual Official Plan (OP) and zoning regulations as part of the framework.
But whether it’s the public or the municipality and staff, two concepts consistently emerged during the recent four-hour meeting: finding a balance and locating the tipping point between residential and commercial rental use.
Residents provided open and scheduled deputations to council in the evening, with many reading the draft by-law and raising repeated questions about enforcement as well as the deadline for authorizing STR operations.
Managing Director Robert Lamb, who chaired the task force, provided an overview of the six meetings over six months in which members of the group discussed and asked questions, in the legal opinion of Sarah Hahn, senior partner at Barriston Law LLP, and planning advice from Jamie Robinson, land use the planner and partner with MHBC Planning Urban Design & Landscape Architecture.
“As you know, we are not alone,” Mayor George Cornell said. “Many municipalities deal with STRs. And as you’ve heard from a number of people who have spoken tonight, we have – if you will – the two extremes; where some don’t want short-term rentals, and some don’t want regulations on short-term rentals.
“It’s our job (as a board) to try to find that balance; what makes the most sense for our community as a whole.
Through an amendment to the OP, Robinson recommended that an enabling policy framework be included to enable council to pass a Zoning By-law Amendment (ZBL) and licensing program.
“What we’ve recognized is that…cottage rentals have been around for years in Tiny Township,” Robinson said. The intention of the OP and ZBL amendments with a licensing regime “is to try to establish a balanced approach to regulation”, recognizing the historic nature of residential areas while providing the opportunity to rent accommodation responsibly but with additional criteria.
Several concerned residents noted that a definition of STR includes secondary use of a residential dwelling for 28 consecutive days or less without on-site management for all or part of the year. It was a definition that also confused the board, which Robinson mocked, saying it needed extra punctuation for clarity.
“The ‘all or part of the year’ really refers to the piece of 28 consecutive days,” Robinson noted, “and ‘on-site management’ is meant to be a standalone part of that definition.” He added that the on-site management in this period would define it as a bed-and-breakfast.
Planning director Shawn Persaud said: “The secondary use room; our aim was to draw a line in the sand, to differentiate residential from commercial due to the historical use of private individuals renting cottages…vs. the “ghost hotels” used for this purpose.
The Board discussed the recommended STR period of a minimum of six consecutive days up to 28 days, and a proposed allowance of approximately 92 days, but handed this over to staff to explore and come back with him at a later date.
Hahn noted that what the LBL intended to achieve was within the authority and jurisdiction of the municipality.
Municipal Law Enforcement Chief Steve Harvey spoke about the enforcement aspect of the approximately 400 STR operators in Tiny and how licensing would be handled.
“We have been in contact with Granicus Host Compliance about their program,” Harvey explained. “They are specialists in helping municipalities considering regulating STR.”
Com. John Bryant noted residents’ concerns about whether the application would be done properly by summer students and weekend gaps.
Lamb responded that the board had approved a full-time by-law officer position during the budget, and that would bring enforcement coverage immediately from morning until past midnight during the summer, Wednesday through Sunday, students summer covering the rest.
“Our intention is for the program to be funded by STR operators,” Lamb added. “We’ve had conversations with Granicus about what other municipalities should set their license fees, and it’s generally ‘what would be an average of three rental days for your community’, so we expect a rental fee would probably be recommended in the range of $750 to $1000 for the annual license plus additional inspection fees.
While the council discussed the maximum number of licenses issued for the current roughly 400 STR operators, 300 was offered as a manageable suggestion with a recognition that as ‘rot’ operators would not be able or would not comply with licensing or zoning requirements. statutes, the number of licenses issued would naturally decrease.
At the end of the meeting, the board asked staff to prepare a report for the next regular board meeting on May 18th. Staff needed to review permits and fees; enter into an agreement with Granicus for the implementation of the program; and to revise the proposed LBL for a maximum of 300 licenses, a maximum occupancy of 10 people or less as sewer permits, and a legal opinion regarding a blackout period for STRs during rental days.
Full details of the Short-Term Rental Task Force, Preliminary Zoning and Official Plan Recommendations, Draft Permit By-Law, and Resident Correspondence can be found in the agenda page located on the Tiny Township website.
Board meeting records can be viewed on the Tiny Township YouTube channel.