Broad-based consultation for B&Bs and vacation properties

The Mayor’s Report with Pelham Mayor Dave Augustyn

Town of Pelham Mayor Dave Augustyn

Town of Pelham Mayor Dave Augustyn – Photo by Divino Mucciante

By Mayor Dave Augustyn – An overflow crowd assembled at last week’s Town Council meeting, because of concern raised in the community over “short-term rental properties.”

You see, some home-owners in the Lookout Point neighbourhood – between Haist and Lookout Streets and north of Regional Road 20 – have complained to their Ward Councillors and Town Staff about a couple of other property owners who rent-out their homes or rooms via AirBnB. These residents are concerned with increased traffic, more street parking, their own property values, noise, and of not knowing who might be renting their neighbour’s home. These residents feel like their enjoyment of their homes and properties have been impacted by the decisions of others. And, while these issues are being felt in communities across the country and around the world, these residents turned to the Town for help.

The Ward Councillors raised the matter at a June Committee meeting and Council directed Staff to work with residents to find out more and to propose a possible course of action. Staff held four meetings with residents to find out more about their concerns and to consider possible solutions.

While the Town’s Official Plan allows Bed & Breakfast facilities, the Zoning Bylaw makes no reference to B&Bs or vacation properties. Since this type of designation does not currently exist under zoning, the group suggested that the Town work toward defining these type of short-term rentals.

The key is that once the Town defines the type of use, it can regulate the use – for location, parking requirements, safety, noise, and other elements. The group also suggested that the Town learn from other communities facing these same issues.

Town Staff informed the resident group that Staff would present a report recommending a community consultation toward this approach to Council at our August 13 meeting.

A week before that report become public, a resident in that neighbourhood started an on-line petition. Someone also wrote an anonymous opinion piece that threatened that Council “intends to permit this use in every home within the town—every home, on every street, in every neighbourhood” and that Council saw this as a “new revenue stream.” These inaccurate missives suggested that people flood the Council Chamber and demand a total ban of short-term vacations rentals across the Town (which would not be legal) and also that the matter be deferred until after the election this Fall.

This anonymous “call to arms” caused panic across the Town and helped fill the Council Chamber last Monday.

Obviously, nothing could be further from the truth on what the Town had planned. In fact, Staff recommended a more broad-based community consultation begin so that the use might be defined to match the desires of our community.

During the meeting, the Town’s director of planning corrected the record and addressed the many inaccuracies and false statements that were published in an August 8, 2018, opinion column in a local newspaper and on the Change.org website. This correct information helped quell the panic of residents.

Councillors discussed the Staff report and the statement and directed that the Town undertake fulsome, broad-based discussions with the community regarding this issue. Please look forward to these discussions this Fall. We will want to know where bed and breakfast establishments and vacation rentals should or should not be permitted; and if they are to be permitted, what should be the conditions? Only following that community discussion will there be a further report to Council with options on whether or not to amend the zoning bylaw and/or to introduce licensing of these uses; that will take a few months to do, depending on the feedback.

Council and I look forward to rational and constructive discussions of this issue and to a community-based solution. We also recognize the importance of the issue, since it is currently affecting folks across the Town.

Please check out the planning director’s statement, the Staff report, other documents and a video of our Council meeting at the Town’s website: www.pelham.ca.

We look forward to working together with you and your neighbours to address short-term vacation rentals.

You may contact Mayor Dave at mayordave@pelham.ca or read past columns at www.pelhammayordave.blogspot.ca.

 


 

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