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Ramara, Severn, Oro-Medonte push county-wide short-term rental strategy

‘I certainly agree that we should be working together on this, not re-inventing the wheel,’ says Oro-Medonte mayor; County considering playing leading role

Municipal neighbours are banding together to come up with solutions to the short-term accommodation issue that has plagued many municipalities across Simcoe County.

In November, the Township of Severn council adopted a resolution that the County of Simcoe be requested to facilitate an education/sharing of information session for all of its lower tiers looking for best practices to regulate short-term rentals, rather than individual municipalities working on individual solutions in silos.

On Wednesday morning, many county councillors put in their two cents on the issue.

“We struggle, as well as Oro-Medonte and Ramara, Tay and others in the county,” said Severn Mayor Mike Burkett. “What we’re looking for is, instead of one of us having that fight, there might be an appetite for something to come from this house and something unified that we all could work with.”

Chief Administrative Officer Mark Aitken said the short-term rental discussion had also come up at a recent regional CAO meeting.

“Municipalities are struggling to be consistent in terms of how they handle these things,” said Aitken, adding that co-ordinating a workshop or discussion with all municipalities present might be the best course of action to get the ball rolling.

“Some (municipalities) are already a long way down the road and have already taken a position on short-term rentals, particularly AirBnBs. Certainly, we could arrange that,” he added.

Collingwood Deputy Mayor Keith Hull suggested the Town of the Blue Mountains as an example that should be looked at. Some bylaws put in place under the Blue Mountain model include that premises may not be rented out for more than 30 consecutive days, with a comprehensive licensing system in place.

“They’ve done an excellent job of putting bylaws together and working with their partners,” said Hull.

Oro-Medonte Township Mayor Harry Hughes said his township has been dealing with the issue for some time now.

“Short-term rentals find ways around these (rules),” he said. “There’s nothing perfect here.”

Hughes also said the difficulty comes in when Official Plans for each municipality are a little bit different, making it difficult to come up with a blanket solution.

“Can we engage the county’s legal services? It’s going to be the legal costs that will substantially impact us,” said Hughes. “I certainly agree that we should be working together on this, not re-inventing the wheel.”

Ramara Township Mayor Basil Clarke said his council passed a new bylaw during their last committee meeting to regulate and license all short-term rentals in the municipality.

“I feel pretty confident about the bylaw, and what we’ve also done is hire a private security company to enforce this bylaw, and we’re trying to make it revenue-neutral,” said Clarke. “We’re looking at about $1,000 to license the short-term rentals.”

“If it pans out, for a modest fee I would share that bylaw with everyone,” joked Clarke, to laughter from the house. Clarke said once the decision was ratified, the township would send it through to the county for consideration.

“Hopefully, this would help solve some of our problems that we share with our neighbours,” he said.

The resolution was received by committee for information.

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Jessica Owen

About the Author: Jessica Owen

Jessica Owen brings 14 years of experience to her role as reporter for Village Media, primarily covering Collingwood and education.
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