Letter: Encouraging Everyone To Express Support For Eliminating “C” Licenced STAs

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Our next-door neighbours for over 30 years, feel compelled to sell their home because one year ago a “C” licenced Short-Term Accommodation (“STA”) operating 365 days a year, set up shop right next to their property. 

There have been numerous incidents including:

1. Fires during fire ban.

2. Setting off fireworks without a permit.

3. Noise during the day from outside speakers, and rowdy party noise after 11:00 pm.

4. Issues with the volume of garbage and handling it correctly.

5. Renters trespassing onto neighbouring waterfront property.

Our next-door neighbours are not at all confrontational, and will readily engage to solve a problem amicably. They have gone above and beyond what any reasonable person would do to embrace the new STA right beside their home and tried to work with the property owner to resolve the numerous incidents and infractions. The property owner does not live at the STA, and lives so far away he has to hire an offsite property manager.

Our street is outraged that our neighbours feel there is no other option than for them to sell their home and move. We attended the Council Meeting on Monday May 27th as a Delegation to press our case that this operation should be shutdown immediately and that Council should eliminate the Class C license under the Short-Term Accommodations Bylaw and revoke all existing Class C licences. Council asked the Clerk to prepare a report to be delivered within 30 days regarding the property. 

A “C” licence allows the owner to rent their property out 365 days of the year to a maximum of 12 people. Waterfront properties can rent out for $1,300/night through the busy summer season. Most couples cannot afford that much, but if you split it between 6 couples it’s only $217/couple and now it’s a pretty good deal for a vacation on the Lake. Consequently, lakefront STAs are frequently filled to capacity. When you get 12 people – couples, friends, extended family, together on holiday they want to have a good time and party. The noise level goes up day and night. 

The Bylaw assumes that the property owner will proactively enforce the occupancy limit. If they don’t, it’s impossible for neighbours to step into the void and prove how many occupants are actually staying at the STA. Even if there is a group photo of the renters on the waterfront, it won’t do the job because the renters can have an unlimited number of guests during the day.

Yes, renters can have an unlimited number of guests as long as they don’t sleep overnight. How can this be allowed? Putting aside the basic noise issue, it’s really going to tax the septic system. There should be zero guests.

As it stands today, you can only be sure how many occupants are at an STA if the Bylaw Enforcement Officer does a bed check at 2:00 am in the morning. That’s never going to happen, so effectively the occupancy limit is unenforceable.

Having 12 renters and more, plus an unlimited number of their day-guests has turned these properties into motels. Ours’ is a residential area and we as property owners never signed up to have a de facto motel in our neighbourhood. There have always been some cottage rentals on our street, but the owners were generally part of the community and were renting to one family at a time and usually to someone they knew. It is what the current “A” and “B” STA licences has tried to codify. However, a “C” licence operating all year long with a large number of renters is just a financial investment with an owner trying to maximize his rental income at the detriment of the local community. 

The STA webpage on the Municipality’s website says the STA Bylaw was enacted “with an aim to protect the character, amenities, and quality of the community”. The Bylaw has failed with respect to “C” licences.

For our neighbours, their property has most likely been devalued because it is right next to a C licenced STA-motel. If they sell, I doubt it will be to a family who wants a home; it will most likely be to an STA Operator who sees an opportunity to set up a full-time income producing property. And, so it will go down the street until we have a bunch of motels operating.

I encourage everyone to reach out to Council and express your support for eliminating “C” licenced STA’s.

Ian Kelland