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County seeks public input on short-term rentals

The municipality is seeking public opinion on the issue of short-term accommodation rentals in Prince Edward County.

“With the rise in popularity of short-term accommodations, council understands that this growing sector offers several positive opportunities while also presenting certain challenges,” said Dianne O’Brien, acting mayor. “Before we move forward with any options, it’s vital that we gain a better understanding of the issues through broad consultation.”

The success of internet-based, short-term accommodation rental services has given home owners greater opportunities to promote vacation stays within their premises. In combination with a constrained supply of accommodations in the County, short-term rentals appear to be gaining in popularity every year.

County staff members have prepared a discussion paper ( outlining issues and options. The public is encouraged to read the discussion paper first, and then fill out the online survey (, which takes approximately five minutes to complete.

Hard copies of the survey are available at Shire Hall (332 Picton Main St.) and Prince Edward County library locations. The survey will remain open until Monday, June 4.

“We urge the public to carefully consider the issues discussed in the document, such as location, house forms, economic impacts, housing supply and affordability, functionality, and municipal regulations,” said Paul Walsh, the County’s manager of planning. “The feedback we receive through the survey will allow us to determine exactly how these issues play out here in the County and what solutions, if any, we will recommend to council.”

The municipality is speaking directly with public agencies and members of the business sector. If you are interested in participating in those discussions, contact Walsh at 613.476.2148 ext. 2025 or email

Following the public consultation, staff will analyze results and report back to council late this summer. As the process moves forward, the public is to have additional opportunities to offer feedback on any proposals.

More information about short-term accommodations is posted on the County’s municipal projects page (

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  1. Paul Adamthwaite says:

    Perhaps the missing element here is the difference between “visitors” to the County (they’ve been coming for a century or more, always welcomed, always happy) and “tourism” which is now becoming an industry, with pros and cons, pluses and minuses.

    Reading Council’s “discussion paper” at leads to some startling conclusions on AirBnB matters: (1) they have created 70 “full time, full year” jobs at nearly $42,000 per employee. I’ve tried to verify, but have failed to find a single one (some part-time contractors are earning money.) (2) $2,000,000 “estimated tax revenue” which requires clarification. Is this *additional* to revenues without AirBnBs?

    The major concern is that we have a half-million (at least) dollar “economic development” department at Shire Hall, which has a big city mentality, promoting GTA (and other) investment in the County. This has two effects:
    – any profits “in” go straight back out again; “regulations” might be a short term fix (AirBnBs rezoned as commercial, specific tourism tax on them) but do not provide a long term solution for local owners
    – and “quality of County life for County residents”, which is their cash cow, is going downhill fast. How many years will it take before our traditional “attractiveness” is dead as a doornail?

    What’s next? A couple of casinos and a Coney Island amusement park?

  2. Dennis Fox says:

    I will look forward to reading the results if this survey – more importantly it will be interesting to see what they do with them and how the information is interpreted and then transformed into regulations. There is an important comment at the end of this article that people should remember…

    “As the process moves forward, the public is to have additional opportunities to offer feedback on any proposals.”

  3. Gary Mooney says:

    Wow! The County has received more than 1000 responses to the survey so far, and it’s not been out very long. Obviously, a lot of interest in this issue. The survey asks whether the respondent is a short-term landlord or not, to there will be the opportunity to compare answers from the two groups. The results of the survey will be presented to Council and will be available to County residents.

  4. Dennis Fox says:

    ADJ – the problems you describe are not that difficult to solve. It is no different than any other business transaction that takes place in every store/business in the land – people place orders,cancel orders, pre-pay for services, some use cash while others use debit or charge card and yet the government still gets its cut. So what is so complicated with your situation? All I am suggesting is that it is time for the local tourist trade operators to step up – even if it means a bit of paperwork – that is the cost of doing business. If need be charge your customers a bit more for your time. I bet if it was paperwork where more money was to be made, business would be right there ready to collect. If the general taxpayer/resident is being asked to pay for roads, water supply, tourist promotion, hospitals, sharing their town and community in every way imaginable, then I believe the municipality should be financially benefiting. This is just my belief and you are entitled to yours. But I don’t know of many communities where locals are expected to foot the entire bill to provide vacationers a free ride and their town pays for the out of town freight.

  5. ADJ says:

    To Dennis…not sure you are seeing the complete picture,but please consider this Tourists come in for overnight,3 day, weekly and many bring their own accommodations ie trailer or Rv.Are you suggesting they pay a % of their reservation dollars to prop up our failing tax base? Anyone could question where our tax dollars are being wasted but that’s a discussion for another time. My question is will this “tourist tax” affect the business owners and I mean all business owner/operators(stores,restaurants,fuel business etc. ) by discouraging a number of tourist from coming here?
    Many reservations are now made online using Interac…partial or full payment is made well in advance but if a cancellation is necessary that complicates things. If I’ve already turned in my “tourist tax” to Shire….how does one get that back?

    I’d suggest you need to talk to operators and get their feedback. You must realize it means extra paperwork(separate books?) and volunteering your time to be a tax collector for PEC. I don’t think that would fly but everybody has an opinion.
    Do you really think every operator is honestly going to willingly deliver quarter payments to Shire hall?
    Your idea of inspections is a good idea and should start with public bathrooms operated by our Prov. Parks and Consrvation area parks.An outdoor crapper without proper clean facilities is just gross but they exist.Remember your asking the visitors to pay up and go along quietly. Good luck with that.I could argue more but this same old same old makes me tired.

  6. Theresa says:

    Ever peruse the AirBnB listings for short term rentals in the County? Primarily the “my home” owner’s telephone number is a 416 or a 647 area code.

    But the “growing sector offers several positive opportunities” for the local who was able to sell their property in record time for record dollars. And the realtor who is helping to price their friends and family out of what the market will bear. And the local who is paid cash to clean up after the tourists. And the online platform host who adds and takes many fees.

    In other news, “It’s finally here, affordable ($275,000) in-town living!” And there’s a small apartment building ready for occupancy in about 16 months.

    So much winning!

  7. Dennis Fox says:

    Mark -you make a good point, However, the tourists are here now and this community is officially a tourist destination, which allows stores to stay open on special days with special hours. Plus, tourists focused employment is already low paying -hopefully with the increase to minimum wage that will help. What “I think” this survey is trying to do is to formalize and to bring some sense of order to what is going on now in a number of neighbourhoods – chaos being created by absentee landlords and by their uncaring clients. Comments coming from places like Wellington have to be listened to. As I have mentioned before, I don’t really believe that this community is capitalizing on the tourist trade. We should be charging fees for licensing and inspections, plus accommodation taxes are ways to control the number of neighbourhood rentals, plus making some much needed cash for the taxpayers in this community. Other communities have such charges, why not here? I also would like to see the number of home based rental properties capped. If someone wants to build a hotel or motel, with the proper zoning, then that is a different situation altogether – at least it would have to go through the public process at council for approval. I am very much in support of rental accommodations – but the key points for me are controlled numbers, meaningful by-laws protecting neighbourhoods and financially beneficial to the community – and moderation.

  8. Mark says:

    So Dennis; we moved fully towards a tourist destination with low paying jobs, and now we want to take away their housing when visiting and remove local opportunity to gain profit in such? Just throwing that question out there as we seem to not have a well planned course.

  9. Dennis Fox says:

    From the news report in the paper, acting Mayor O’Brien explained that the average rental is $210/night. Short term rentals are making some people rich(which is just dandy) – so asking for a yearly license and regular health and safety inspections (at their expense) are reasonable regulations. This issue is no doubt a move to have tourists find accommodation within the County – so imposing an accommodation or tourist tax should also be part of the requirement to run a short term rental. The community and neighbourhoods should benefit in some way – why not?

  10. Gary says:

    The highest water wastewater rates in Canada makes the County a poor option for affordable housing. What is to be affordable cannot cope with those costs.

  11. Susan says:

    I agree. Move some of the $$ from the economic development or tourism department (whatever they call it) and hire a competent specialist that knows how to apply and acquire the available funding. Hastings has received a lot of affordable housing dollars. Enough with tourism for now. We can’t even move traffic in May!

  12. Fred says:

    It has to be balanced for a capital economy to survive. More regulation and government control of our lives is not welcomed either. We are regulated to death and including death. There has to be incentives for affordable housing or else who’s going to build it? Hastings County has received millions in funding the last 2 years. Are we asleep at th switch?

  13. Paul Cole says:

    Chris and Dennis both make very good points regulations are needed here short term rentals should be on a level playing field with Hotels and Motels across the board…

  14. Chris Keen says:

    The County should consider adopting the City of Toronto’s regulations that short-term rentals (less than 28 days) are only allowed in one’s principal residence. In addition renters must have a licence, register with the City, and pay a 4% Municipal Occupation Tax. An OMB decision on these changes is expected in the fall.

  15. Dennis Fox says:

    I don’t see “short term rentals” addressing the affordable housing problem at all. Just the name implies that it is for vacationers and not for anyone wanting to stay put for any length of time. The term implies a transient neighbourhood. The problems of parking and keeping a sense of neighbourhood are key issues that need consideration. Residential neighbourhoods were never designed to accommodate multi-units in many homes- meaning having 2,3, or maybe 4 bathrooms in a lot of homes- or the need for 4 or more parking spaces for each house, this cannot be accommodated without a huge negative impact. If you want to create a water shortage/capacity and planning nightmare – this is how it happens. The municipality must consider limiting the number of rental units/neighbourhood with yearly licensing and monitoring of health and safety standards,etc… Absentee landlords need a special mention too. If full time residents and homeowners are going to have a business running next door to them, then they need some way to protect their quality of life and neighbourhood too. And just what does “short term” mean and how many people can rent and live in one unit and who will monitor it and pay for the clean up, if needed? What is needed here is proper planning – so I am hoping that the survey is the beginning of a good process.

  16. Gary Mooney says:

    Good point, Emily. I don’t know whether such conversions are significant as a percentage of the 12K housing units in the County, but it would be worthwhile to find out.

  17. Emily says:

    Not exactly Gary. When low rental buildings are purchased, leases terminated for major renovations and then the property changes to high priced vacation rentals ( this is occurring in Picton) it does have a major impact on affordable housing as those current affordable rental units are lost forever.

  18. Gary Mooney says:

    Jack, the initiative on short-term rentals is not intended to increase tourist visits; rather it is to address concerns raised by residents — such things as dark streets, noise / parking / vandalism, etc.

    Regarding affordable housing, Council included $250K in the budget to explore all means of increasing affordable housing. In this regard, County government is working cooperatively with other groups — e.g. the Community Foundation. Priority is being given to improving the supply of long-term rentals.

    While people have expressed concern about short-term rentals reducing the supply of affordable housing, this is not really the case. By definition, affordable means housing units with lower market values — e.g. well below $300K. Most short-term rentals are properties with market values greater — often much greater — than this amount.

    As a bonus comment, County government is just now completing a major plan for improvements in affordable public transit throughout the County. The primary beneficiaries will be lower income County families, seniors and seasonal workers.

  19. Jack Smith says:

    The County wants to stop and quit thinking about new ideas to draw in more tourists. They want to start thinking about low renting projects for the existing people that live and work here. Rent is way to high for peoples wages especially for families.As for the survey to me this is a joke cause council will do what they want especially if it in their favor.

  20. Dennis Fox says:

    I appreciate the opportunity to take part in this discussion and survey. I hope that the survey results will carry some weight. The last one I recall was the survey re: size of council and ward boundary – which council ignored and then implemented a council size and boundary change which the public had no input into. I don’t like having my time wasted with token input – hopefully this time will be different.

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