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Proposal to examine County’s short-term rentals on planning agenda

Consultations with county departments, external agencies and the public are proposed to explore short-term rental accommodations in Prince Edward County.

Council will receive a report at its planning meeting Wednesday at Shire Hall asking staff to conduct public consultation and bring recommendations for amendments to the Official Plan or zoning bylaws, and considerations to the introduction of licensing.

Concerns have been raised regarding short-term rentals with respect to land use, market impacts, impacts on affordable housing, fire code standards and the need for standardization of tourist accommodation regulations.

“Prior to embarking on the introduction of regulatory remedies, the extent of the potential problems should be clearly identified and generally agreed upon,” stated Paul Walsh, Manager of Planning, in a report prepared for Wednesday’s planning meeting. “Regulatory options for consideration include Official Plan policies, zoning bylaw provisions, business licensing, taxation if regulation allows.”

The report provides an overview of issues associated with property owners who regularly rent homes or cottages to tourists, commonly referred to as “short-term accommodation (STA) rental, typically through internet-based rental services such as Airbnb or VBRO (vacation rental by owner). The report also addresses the April 27th motion of the council’s Committee of the Whole regarding the “sharing ecomony”.

While the report states the extent of short-term accommodations in the County is unknown, through research staff provided an overview of the Airbnb community suggesting 580 active listings with 79 per cent being for entire homes; the remainder being rooms in homes, cottages, etc., plus other rentals occuring through advertising and other web sites.

The Airbnb overview states the average host age is 48 and typical earnings are $7,800 per year. Since August 1, 2016, more than 28,300 guests have visited the County using Airbnb. Average length of stay is 3 nights. Average group size is 3.7 people.

Economic impact for the County, estimated by urbanMetrics inc., market economic and strategic advisors, pegs expenditures at $5.6 million; 70 full-time full year jobs and labour income at $2.9 million. Estimated tax revenue is $2 million.

Issues of concern include the loss of affordable housing, excessive noise in ‘party houses’, overflow parking, lack of adherence to good property standards and onsite waste management. The issue of no longer knowing one’s neighbours, loss of neighbourhood cultural identity and ‘dark neighbourhoods’ (empty homes) are also cited.

Concerns are also raised about commercial use in residential settings, lack of taxation and the effects of rentals on established tourism accommodation businesses such as bed and breakfasts.

Benefits include adding revenue to home owners who need supplemental income, a variety of options for tourists for accommodation, increased cash flow into the local economy, increased rates of full occupancy in bed and breakfasts and an added supply of jobs through cleaning and property management services.

The County’s Community Development staff has initiated discussion with the Chamber of Commerce, insurance companies, some tourist accommodations operaters and fire services staff. Further consultation is recommended with public works, bylaw enforcement, the OPP and EMS and well as the public.

A summary of regulations established by the town of Blue Mountains is being offered as a good example to review.

STA is defined there as rental for any period less than 30 consecutive days and does not include motel, hotel, B&B, tourist cabin or cottage, hospital or commercial resort.

STAs are limited there to zones that permit non-residential use. This zoning, when implemented by the town was successfully defended at the OMB.

Provisions at Blue Mountains state the STA must be connected to municipal sewer and water; must have site plan for one parking space per guest room or .5 spaces per occupant (whichever is greater) and maximum number of occupants must not exceed eight people.

STAs must have site approval plans; apply for licensing bi-annually and have liability insurance not less than $2 million per occurrence for property damange and bodily injury; and a fire code compliance statement.

Licensing fee is set at $2,500 for year years with a renewal of $750 for two years. There are also fees for fire and property standard inspection fees (up to $100) and fees for appeals, hearings and late renewals. Properties that violate the bylaw can be subject to $250 fines.

A report on bylaw zoning amendments for ‘second units’ and ‘garden suites’ on properties is being considered separately.

Second units would be a dwelling in addition to an existing dwelling (within a single detached dwelling, semi-detached, towhouse or ina separate detached building, but exclusive of a trailer or mobile home).

These units would be permitted in residential zones at one per property. A maximum of one home business or one home rural business is permitted per lot.

It includes provisions for parking, entrances, removing the limit of dwelling unit area of 645 square feet; and location further than 100 feet from an existing building. It prohibits second units in group homes, boarding house or rooming houses. Report located here: https://princeedwardcounty.civicweb.net/filepro/documents/123275?preview=138240.

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  1. Lori says:

    I totally agree with what Kevin, Gary and Fred wrote!!!! People think short term rentals are getting a tax break!!
    Seriously people!! Dont worry, the annual income tax takes a big chunk of earnings. And dont forget all the money home owners spend to clean, stock, advertise and maintain the property!! GIVE IT COUNTY! You take enough from the locals. Talk to the real estate agents that bring bus loads if people to buy property and tell tgem it would be a great rental!!!!!

  2. wevil says:

    why should it only be shops stores restaurants etc. be the only benefit from all the tourists that come to the county let home owners have some of the benefits share the wealth people

  3. Bikerman says:

    What is never asked is why property owners go the short term rental route, perhaps it is having more control over the rental business and not be hamstrung by the Residential Tenancy Act which is stacked against landlords, maybe if the game was leveled for all the players, property owners might come back.

  4. wevil says:

    the county only wants tourists and now they don’t know what to do with them let people have a bit of control of their own property

  5. Kevin says:

    Using award winning marketing skills promoting tourism in the County, what did they think was going to happen? When you draw people here to visit, they need a place to stay. And, property owners need to survive the costs of living here. It’s two fold. You can’t have one without the other. Like it or not.

  6. Marnie says:

    A Main Street with few stores selling essential goods, just gift shops, residential areas with an increasing number of homes turned into vacation rentals, traffic jams on Main Street and now local residents and business owners reporting rude tourists – year-round residents are beginning to feel like guests in their own home, but, hey, we have tourism. Be careful of what you wish for.

  7. gilles says:

    It’s not just a problem of affordable housing anymore. It’s a problem about available housing.There is very little available.A moratorium needs to be enacted until the County can figure this one out. An interim control by-law: no more conversions of entire houses, until regulations are in place. And furthermore, when this is regulated I suggest that no more existing housing stock be used for this purpose. All new vacation rentals shall be only of new construction. Let the people who live in the County stay here, in the existing housing stock.

  8. Debbie says:

    Evening,
    I live on a road that has 38 homes or cottages on it in a rural area.
    7 are homes.
    17 are seasonal cottages.
    14 are now rental cottages and homes.
    I have experienced the good and bad of all the renters. Unfortunately, the bad seems to be more prevalent.
    If I had a choice, I would pick no short term rentals but our county has been discovered and we must deal with it.

  9. Andre Gratton says:

    Could not agree more with this kind of review as long as it is not bogus and is done with the intent of ensuring that affordable housing available for local residents is a priority. And that secondly, A different taxation systems applies to all those who are not permanently residing in a residence for a minimum of six months per year. Otherwise like many states south of the border where our snow birds hangout. different tax rate for you for owning only income property.

  10. Lou says:

    They keep saying its taking away housing ..affordable housinh to full time residents. Maybe to sone people….but many make minimum wage in town. They wouldnt be able to rent a 500000 home anyhow. .. some people wantjng affordable welfare housi g cant get those expensive aurbnbs . …apartments and teensy teensy repair needed homes

  11. Fred says:

    If staff and Council think the vacation rentals will change to affordable housing opportunities they are sadly mistaken. The horse is out of the barn. The County has changed and ironically our Council has been a driving force in this direction. They would be wiser to start applying for the multiple affordable housing grants presently available both provincially and federally.

  12. Gary says:

    Exactly why Blue Mountains is a poor comparable. On the other hand if it will relieve the urban water crisis hey perhaps I could ignore another tax grab! LOL

  13. Alison says:

    “Provisions at Blue Mountains state the STA must be connected to municipal sewer and water” .. yikes. That won’t work in the county when much of the community is on well and septic.

  14. Chris Keen says:

    The regulations established by Blue Mountains are completely reasonable and sensible. They also insure that individuals engaged in this sort of activity will pay tax on the money earned.

  15. Whatever says:

    Yeah, you should be able to do whatever you want with your own property…ya know, like build a windmill!

  16. Gary says:

    Here it comes again. Government telling property owners what they can and cannot do with their property. And while at it let’s regulate to the nines and of course throw in some healthy fees and taxes for the bureaucracy.

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