Temagami wants to investigate further whether there is a need to strengthen “good neighbour” bylaws for short-term rental properties in the area.
A stronger option was also discussed which would be to require owners to obtain a license to be allowed to rent out homes as short-term rental properties.
Planner Patrick Townes of MHBC Urban Planning and Design has been asked to investigate the cost of implementing a licensing bylaw, which would be included in the zoning bylaw and official plan. The municipality has also asked for more background information regarding the real situation in Temagami.
The town received a presentation from Townes at its January 11 meeting. Some councillors shared that they have received noise complaint comments from residents. One councillor said a concern was raised about septic system overuse.
Mayor Dan O’Mara noted that the district is working on a generic plan and he and Townes agreed that they have heard that the federal government is also working on some related legislation.
Townes said the rental of cottage properties has been around as long as cottages have existed, but “What is really new is the frequency and intensity we see (with) some of these cottages or dwellings being rented, sometimes in the town site or outside the town site.”
He added that it has become more evident “as the result of the sharing economy with the different platforms that are available.”
The shift to short-term rentals across the province is occurring in areas that were not planned for that use, he said.
Some issues that can arise include noise, more traffic, and potentially more garbage, he outlined. The need to ensure the septic system is adequate was also noted. The fire department and the building inspector might also see health and safety issues that should be addressed, he continued. Adequate parking would also be needed. Other things that could be controlled through a licensing system could be the number of guests, the number of bedrooms, an emergency contact, enforcement and penalties.
“It’s a pretty strong tool,” said Townes.
Townes said it would be up to council to decide whether the situation was such that they felt it should be more closely regulated.
“I think we need evidence before we make a decision,” said Councillor Jo-Anne Platts.
She added that she is concerned about how much work the council and staff already have to do over the next couple of years.
Councillor Margaret Youngs commented that she has seen several complaints the council has received, and she has been told 32 properties in the municipality are being used as income properties.
Councillor Wendell Gustavson noted that the fire department did have safety concerns about an income property at one point.
Councillor Brian Koski said that the only complaint he has heard in the last three months since returning to council has been on this topic.
“I don’t think it has got to a point where we have to go through with a full bylaw but I think we have to keep it on the back burner and keep an eye on it.”
He noted the municipality has waterfront properties on three lakes.
Councillor Carol Lowery expressed support for bringing in the licensing bylaw with the zoning bylaw and official plan. She said council needs to “make sure we have some ammunition if we need it in the future because this is a growing concern.”
O’Mara agreed that the municipality should “at least get the ball rolling.” He expressed interest in related legislation that the federal government might be working on.
Darlene Wroe is a Local Journalism Initiative Reporter with the Temiskaming Speaker. LJI is funded by the government of Canada.