Mono council speeds the clock on short term rental regulation

May 31, 2024   ·   0 Comments


Mono’s deputy mayor would like a bylaw to regulate short-term rental properties to be elevated to a high-priority issue for council.

A line item dubbed short-term rental (STR) accommodations bylaw has been listed among unfinished town council business since November 2023, listed as being of low priority. It was elevated to a medium priority rating this year.

Fred Nix, the deputy mayor, suggested during council’s May 28 meeting that the issue be elevated to high-priority status.

“I think it would be great if we could regulate short-term rentals, but I’m very concerned with the administrative costs and the enforcement,” he said. Nix added this would be the first aspect of the issue staff would have to investigate.

The issue has been a hot-button topic in many Ontario jurisdictions. Township councils in the Muskoka region and Haliburton County, some of the places typically thought of as cottage country, have been debating ways to regulate and capitalize on Airbnb-type cottage rentals for some time.

Mayor John Creelman said during a February council meeting that a strongly worded letter should be dispatched to the provincial government, suggesting STR properties should be assessed differently than residential properties.

STR operations are commercial income-generating properties. And Creelman said council has taken that question to the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation in the past.

Councillor Melinda Davie said there are a number of issues on council’s unfinished business list. She didn’t dispute the importance of an STR bylaw, but she indicated that there are also many issues with which council has tasked municipal staff.

“It’s important to us all,” Davie said.

“Summer is coming and it’s going to be bad,” said Coun. Elaine Capes, who added that the issue’s priority should be elevated. “This was an issue last year and there were a lot of people being bombarded by unwanted noise, unwanted garbage.”

She’s heard complaints from people who have to deal with the garbage that’s left every weekend by nearby STR guests.

“I think it is of more importance, perhaps, than we have it labelled as,” Capes said. “So maybe something has to be pushed, but that’s up to staff.”

The issue’s timeline for resolution is for the first quarter of 2025.

Fred Simpson, the town’s clerk, said that could be made sooner.

“Of course, it will affect other items on the list,” Simpson said.

Simpson said he’s been researching a STR bylaw for Mono. That background research needs to be compiled and formalized into a report for council’s consideration.

“That report is basically going to explain to council what the regime would be in order to license short-term rentals and point out the concerns and issues with establishing a business licensing regime, which is the route that has to be done,” Simpson said.

Other municipalities use administrative monetary penalties (AMPs) to enforce STR regulations in their respective jurisdictions, he said. And all insist AMPs are necessary to the issue.

AMPs replace Provincial Offences Act penalties.

Dufferin County staff and other lower-tier municipalities are working together to see if an AMP system can be established, Simpson said.

“My report can come sooner than originally anticipated later this year,” Simpson said. “But my report will include that AMPs need to be put in place prior to licensing short-term rentals.”

“This is a difficult job licensing and regulating and enforcing short-term rentals,” Nix said. “Is there any possibility other communities in Dufferin County are thinking of it or already addressed it?”

“The county is not interested in regulating this,” said Simpson. “So far, no other municipality in Dufferin has expressed an interest.”

Simpson suggested a “transient accommodation tax” could be levied. That’s much like a municipal accommodation tax charged to STRs by other Ontario centres. Those taxes would help finance the administration and enforcement of a STR bylaw.

“If council does go down the route of licensing, the experience from other small municipalities is it’s very expensive to enforce,” Simpson said.

Davie said council has the option of simply banning the practice of STRs in Mono.

“If it’s going to be too much money to be able to administer, the other answer of course is to say that we don’t do that in Mono,” Davie said. “Which is something that we hadn’t really thought of before but would solve our problem with respect to the negative part of it and that people would have to reconsider having monetized their properties.”

Capes said residents who have complaints about STR tenants should call the OPP.

“If they see something going on, on a property that looks suspicious like big partying, lots of noise, amplified sound, they can call the OPP,” Capes said. “They can report a disturbance.”

Creelman suggested council send a letter to the provincial government regarding the STR properties being assessed differently than a residential property.

“There doesn’t appear to be a way of categorizing the short-term rental properties as a business, as a commercial undertaking,” Creelman said. “They’re taxed as a regular residence, and I think that flies in the face of reality. It may also be a way of reining in some of those activities.”

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