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LETTER: Balanced approach, not 'overreaching ban' needed in Oro-Medonte, says agency owner

'There may be a few party houses, but they are the exception,' says letter writer, noting typically 'complaints come from the same very few properties and owners'

OrilliaMatters welcomes letters to the editor ([email protected]). This letter is in response to story, published April 2, titled 'Township's attempt to control 'party houses' deemed overreach' and a letter to the editor, published April 5, titled, 'Short-term rentals destroying our neighbourhoods.'
I am writing in response to recent letters and stories about the short term accommodation (STA) ruling in Oro-Medonte. Specifically, the claim that Oro-Medonte residents are now looking to sell to move farther north.

The letter writer said the word is out about 'STA hell' and all of her clients relocating north to live (and there are a lot!) ask whether STAs are allowed in the neighbourhood. If the answer is yes, they look elsewhere, said the letter writer.

I own Jayne's Luxury Rentals, a cottage rental agency, with most of our properties in the Muskoka region. We have over 250 properties in lakefront areas, including Oro-Medonte, Collingwood, Lake Simcoe, Toronto, Southern Georgian Bay, Parry Sound, Lake of Bays, Haliburton and the Kawarthas. I take exception to the letter and the story that are against the negative decision arrived in this Tribunal.  

In the first letter, where residents say that the recent decision will make them to relocate to a more favourable area, I would like to ask in which township are they relocating? There are very few townships that had an outright rental ban like Oro-Medonte. Further, it is very likely that the basis of this decision could be challenged in other townships.

Secondly, and in response to the mayor's comment in the story, and to the real foundations of this matter, while there may be a recent set of new owners that do not seem to care about the community that they buy their properties in, as they are solely for investment revenue....this is a very small percentage.

The majority of owners of second properties have or have had their cottage for generations or longer. These long time cottage owners have typically 'rented' the cottage for a few weeks as a 'rite of passage' to offset the annual cottage upkeep costs. 

Perhaps, while years ago, the prior generations could afford their second property, with property values where they are now, that most often isn't the situation now.  These generations of families have been so fortunate to have the opportunity to have a second home to escape to and share family times, such as swimming, camp fires, connecting with cousins and disconnecting largely from their day-to-day life. 

There are many owners in Oro-Medonte who are generations removed from the owners of these beautiful properties who need to rent to simply afford to keep their beloved cottage in their family. And the younger generations are now investing their money to keep these family properties instead of investing in an urban property where they work.

Are you really against less than 30-day cottage rentals and want to deny these 'basically' residents of Oro-Medonte to not be able to afford their family cottage? Denying these families to be able to rent their cottages, for example a week or less at a time, will enable them to potentially afford the upkeep. 

Or, would you rather have them sell to very wealthy owners to take up residence in Oro-Medonte where they will have no part of the community?

Better said, let's look at the problems that have been encountered in Oro-Medonte. Yes there may be a few 'party houses', but they are the exception  As I experience in Muskoka from time to time, the complaints come from the same very few properties and owners. 

So why are we denying generations of their favourite livelihood when there are a handful of owners who do not follow the rulebook?  Why take away a right that has been operating for generations down by rental bans when there are only a handful of negligent owners - who we should be focusing on?  

Oro-Medonte had plenty of opportunity to enforce its noise and nuisance bylaw, had it wanted to. The problem cannot be visited on careful and responsible renters. What is required is a balanced approach that targets the few party houses, not an overreaching ban. That is not good planning.

Jayne McCaw
Seguin Township